Deadline looms for Panama canal works

Deadline looms for Panama canal works

PANAMA CITY - Agence France-Presse
Deadline looms for Panama canal works

Workers and cranes are seen at the construction site of the Panama Canal Expansion project on the Atlantic side on the outskirts of Colon City.

No end was in sight Jan. 19 to a financial row over cost overruns on Panama’s canal expansion that could threaten the megaproject key to world trade.

The Grupo Unidos por el Canal consortium, led by Spanish builder Sacyr, has threatened to suspend the work by Jan. 20 unless Panama pays for $1.6 billion in “unforeseen” costs.GUPC, which includes Impreglio of Italy, Belgium’s Jan de Nul and Constructora Urbana of Panama, has agreed to negotiate with the canal authority within the contract.

The overall canal upgrade is costing $5.2 billion, including GUPC’s $3.2 billion contract to build a third set of locks for the century-old canal, which currently welcomes ships that carry up to 5,000 containers.
Already facing delays, the project aims to make the 80-kilometer waterway, which handles five percent of global maritime trade, big enough to handle new cargo ships that can carry 12,000 containers.
Canal administrator Jorge Quijano said that contact with the consortium continued over the weekend but that so far no deal had been struck.

“We do help GUPC will find a way that will enable them to move forward on the construction, and continue to make its demands and requests as (the consortium) should under the contract,” Quijano told AFP.