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Panama Canal ‘on track for early 2016’

Despite a series of further setbacks and challenges, the Panama Canal expansion is still “on track to be completed in early 2016”. Current work is focused on the electro-mechanical phase of construction.

Disputes and strikes have delayed the completion of the canal for two years longer than originally forecast, but even as it enters its final stages it has been beset with problems.

Flooding of the new locks commenced in June this year, but by August a crack had been found in the Cocolí Locks on the Pacific side. Videos have been released online showing water pouring through a huge crack running the length of the foundation. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) glossed over the incident, saying repairs would take only a month to compete and would not delay the new scheduled opening date of April 2016.

Another hindrance was the setting of temporary draft restrictions on vessels transiting the canal because of drought caused by El Niño. This was expected to affect around 18 per cent of vessels transiting the canal. Further restriction may be announced if the drought continues.