The Panama Canal is celebrating 13 years under Panamanian administration. During this period, the Canal has strengthened its role in international commerce as a result of investment in the modernization of its infrastructure, its expansion and an alliance with its natural surroundings.
“The Panama Canal reaffirms its relevance in international commerce more than ever as a result of the decisions and actions that Panamanians have taken with regard to its management,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.
Quijano highlighted that the Panamanian management model has enabled the efficient and safe operation of the Canal, allowing it to offer a world-class service. Furthermore, its sustainable and profitable management generates increasing contributions to Panama’s development.
A Cutting-Edge Canal
Under Panamanian stewardship, the Canal has invested US$2.09 billion in several projects to update its operational infrastructure and has acquired new equipment, guaranteeing its clients an efficient, safe and competitive service.
The main projects developed during these 13 years include:
• Straightening and widening of Gaillard Cut.
• Purchase of floating equipment, including tugboats, a cutter-suction dredge and a backhoe/dipper dredge.
• Replacement of the original lock system from electromechanical to hydraulic.
• Replacement of locomotives and the rehabilitation of the locomotive tracks in the locks.
• Reforestation programs with more than 2 million planted saplings in the Canal Watershed.
In addition, there is a list of projects currently underway such as the construction of the new bridge on the Atlantic side of the Canal, which will foster the development of this region. Furthermore, a new Visitors Observation Center, with a view to the expansion work on the Atlantic side of the Canal, was inaugurated in 2012.
In 2007, the Panama Canal expansion project began as a result of a widespread approval by Panamanians in a national referendum. The Expansion Program will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal by building a new set of locks which will allow the transit of bigger ships with more capacity.
After five years, the project has generated 28,690 direct jobs. On September 20, 2012, the awarded contracts totaled US$4.3 billion.
As of November 30, 2012, the Expansion Program registered an overall progress of 48.9 percent, with several components almost completed – mainly the dredging works at the Panama Canal entrances on the Pacific and Atlantic sides.
Panama Canal Expansion Program Progress (as of November 30, 2012)
- Excavation of the Pacific locks access channel 76.5%
- Dredging of the Atlantic side Canal entrance 99%
- Dredging of the Pacific side Canal entrance 97%
- Dredging of Gatun Lake and Gaillard Cut 82%
- Design and construction of new locks 36%
- Raising Gatun Lake’s maximum operating level 10%
- TOTAL 48.9%
The Panama Canal Watershed
In the past 13 years, the Panama Canal has maintained a natural synergy with its surroundings and the communities that live in the Panama Canal Watershed. This ensures the conservation of the environment and the protection of water resources which are essential for human consumption as well as for the waterway’s operation.
As part of the efforts to sustain the natural resources of the watershed during this period, the Panama Canal Authority encouraged the delivery of more than 10,000 land titles to its inhabitants and works with them in several reforestation, environmental education and economic incentive programs to improve their quality of life.
About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP's Web site: http://www.pancanal.com/. You can also follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thepanamacanal.