Repair of damaged Panama Canal to extend beyond inauguration

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on Monday said that the repairs to a wall in the southern section of the Miraflores lock that collapsed over the weekend is progressing at a steady pace, but will take at least five weeks to complete.

“All the canal’s operations are continuing in an absolutely normal way. It is estimated that the first phase of the work will be completed in four or five weeks,” the ACP said.

A number of experts studied the lock and concluded that it is “solid, secure and stable,” the ACP said.

“That wall is not part of the basic structure of the lock; it was originally built as a containing wall to hold back earth from the original slopes along the banks,” the ACP said.

The Panama Canal, through which 6 percent of the world’s trade is shipped, was built by the United States between 1904 and 1914, and was managed by Washington until Dec. 31, 1999, when the Torrijos-Carter Treaty signed in 1977, took effect.

To be held on June 26 will be the inauguration of the canal’s first enlargement, which was begun in 2007 for an initial cost of $5.25 billion and will allow three times more freight to pass through the canal than at present.

The expansion of the route, constructed by an international consortium led by Spain’s Sacyr infrastructure company, will be inaugurated with a ceremony to which heads of state and government from all over the world are invited, as well as representatives of the principal shipping lines.

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