The new set of locks at the expanded Panama Canal will see first ships being navigated through in mid-2015, according to Canal’s Chief Jorge Quijano.
“We hope to start a series of tests with the locks next year in the month of July or August,” Quijano was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The Panama Canal Authority received the latest shipment of four new gates for the locks on Sunday. The third set of locks, built in Italy, is comprised of 16 rolling gates, eight for each new lock complex.
The last four gates are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2014.
The expanded Canal will permit the transit of bigger vessels through the waterway that will allow for a more efficient connectivity and savings through economies of scale.
The $5.3 billion expansion project has achieved an overall progress of 78%, while the new locks project is currently 73% complete.
The project is expected to be complete by December 2015, 16 months behind schedule due to work suspension triggered by cost overruns.
The consortium behind the project GUPC suspended work on the locks in February, due to a “cash-flow crisis” arising from $1.6 billion in cost overruns, which, according to GUPC, should be covered by the Panama Canal Authority.
The two managed to reach a deal on August 1st for completion of the Third Set of Locks project.