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Panama Canal expansion will be operational on April 1, 2016

  • Published 30.04.2015

The Panama Canal expansion will be operational for international maritime traffic on 1 April 2016, said Tuesday the Minister of Canal, Roberto Roy, during the laying of the last gate of the extension project of the road.

"We will complete the expansion of the Panama Canal, that is paramount. We just eleven months because the first of April (2016) the Canal will be open to international navigation," Roy told reporters. Since 2007, the Panama Canal is being expanded to ships of up to 14,000 containers, triple its current capacity, can pass through its 80 kilometers. With the expansion may pass through the Canal postpanamax new vessels of more than 400 meters long and 50 wide, equivalent to four football fields.

"Now what we have to do is step on the accelerator and end" works, said Roy.

Work will take a year late, have an estimated cost of USD 5,250 million.

The consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), which runs the main project contract, settled on Tuesday the last of the 16 gates that make enlargement.

A very slow and 480 carts on four wheels, capable of supporting up to 10 tons each, rhythm gate was installed in the new Pacific locks.

The operation performed with a "joystick" lasted more than three hours.

The huge steel structure 4,200 tons has dimensions of 57.6 meters wide, 10 long and 33 high.

"We have much work still to do. The target will be met on a boat pass," said the president of GUPC, Giuseppe Quarta.

With the placement of the gates, and after a month of electromechanical test, the new route will start progressively flooded practices for boats.

GUPC, composed of Spanish Sacyr, Italy's Salini Impregilio, Belgium's Jan de Nul and Panama's Constructora Urbana, deliver the work in early 2016.

The works, which are about 90% complete, take a year late due to various disputes between GUPC and the Panama Canal Authority, plus several labor strikes. The final cost of the project is uncertain due to the demands of the consortium. With the expanded Panama Canal State expects to triple the 1,000 million provided by the satellite to the National Treasury. According to Roy, the largest business ahead for the new road is liquefied natural gas transit from the US to Japan, and container. For Panama Canal, the main users are the United States and China, spends 5% of world maritime trade.

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