Panama Canal’s expansion deadline pushed to May 2016

The long-awaited Panama Canal expansion project has now been given a new deadline for May 2016 after major delays and expensive overruns, according to Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela.

During his address to the nation on Saturday, Varela urged the Spanish-led consortium, Grupo Unidos por el Canal de Panama (GUPC), in charge of the project, to focus on completing the Panama Canal expansion works, and leave legal disputes to competent authorities.

The appeal came after an adjudication board ordered the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to pay the consortium USD17million for budget overruns and extra labor costs.

The works were originally meant to have been completed in October 2014, however, numerous delays caused to project’s previous deadline to be pushed to April 2016, which was further postponed to May because of the repair works on the locks.

According to ACP CEO/Administrator Jorge L. Quijano, reinforcements of cracked locks detected in August 2015 are scheduled to be completed mid-January 2016, as assured by GUPC. This will be followed by testing of locks reinforcements and additional testing in February.

The ACP had said in December 2015 said that the expansion project of the canal has reached 96 percent completion.

Launched in 2007, the expansion project aims to triple the canal’s capacity.

Projected to amount to USD 5.3 billion, the expansion cost has been significantly exceeded. 

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