The bottleneck in the Panama Canal has been cleared on the back of better weather conditions and resources spent on efforts to free up the traffic, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said on Monday.
“The waiting times for ships have been restored to normal levels. The line is 45 ships, which represents a maximum waiting time of two days,” ACP’s statement reads.
The waiting times in October reached as high as ten days resulting in delays of over 107 vessels. The congestion was attributed to a surge in traffic stemming from vessels diverted from the US west coast, increase in the gas and tanker vessels and a greater number of slow deep-draught ships crossing the canal.
ACP has been implementing measures aimed at easing the vessel flow ever since. These activities included revising of booking schedules, removing draught restriction and delaying of non-critical maintenance work.
According to the Canal Administrator, Jorge L. Quijano, the Canal Authority is satisfied with the result obtained by the measures taken to expedite traffic and reduce waiting times.
This year set a new record for the canal in terms of handled tonnage, with 340.8 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) passing through the canal in the 2015 fiscal year ended September 30. The previous record was set in FY2012 with 333.7 million PC/UMS tons.
The USD 5.8 billion Panama Canal’s expansion which is at 95% completion rate is expected to double the canal’s handling capacity.
The project contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal, SA (GUPC) is expected to complete the repairs on the recent leaks detected in the newly constructed third set of locks in January 2016, which is likely to delay the completion of the project and opening of the new locks, scheduled for April 2016.
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