Inauguration of Expanded Panama Canal Delayed Again

Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

The official inauguration of the expanded Panama Canal scheduled for April 2016 will have to be delayed yet for another time due to necessary repairs.

The expansion project’s contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) confirmed the feasibility of the functional delivery of the work in April 2016. However, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) wants to test a chartered ship through the new Atlantic locks before it gives the official clearance to the expanded project.

According to ACP administrator Jorge Luis Quijano, the plan is to open the locks in the second quarter of 2016, June at the latest.

The repairs in the cracks detected in the Cocoli Locks on the canal’s Pacific side had been detected in August, and the Panama Canal Authority said that it would not accept the project until all necessary repairs are conducted by GUPC.

GUPC has ordered extra steel reinforcement of the locks and promised to complete the repairs by the middle of January 2016.

The expanded locks were primarily set to open in October 2014, but due to delays and contractual disputes between the ACP and the GUPC, the inauguration of the project has been pushed for the second quarter of 2016.

The USD 5.8 billion project is said to be 95% complete, according to the Canal Authority.

Once complete, the expanded Panama Canal will be able to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels, including container ships of up to 13,000 TEUs, more than doubling the existing maximum size of 5,000 TEU.

World Maritime News Staff

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