The Panama Canal Authority
(ACP) released results from first quarter operations that show traffic on the Canal has increased both in terms of ships and Panama Canal Universal Measurement System
(PC/UMS) tonnage and that vessels are moving more quickly through the Canal and with fewer accidents than a year ago. These improvements are based on operations from October through December of 2002, the first quarter of the ACP's fiscal year 2003.
During the first quarter of FY2003, the Canal continued to improve its safety record, reducing maritime accidents by 33.3 percent with only four accidents -- compared to six for the same period last year. The average Canal Waters Time
or CWT, the time it takes for a vessel to transit the Canal, is also down 8.9 percent -- 22.4 hours from 24.6 hours during this period last year.
The Canal experienced increases in PC/UMS tonnage and traffic this quarter. Canal tonnage increased by 4.9 percent -- to 61,044,707 PC/UMS from 58,213,058 PC/UMS.
Canal traffic was also up slightly: 2,887 transits compared to 2,882 transits during last year's quarter.
"Traffic was expected to be up from a year ago because of the slow down we experienced immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks," said ACP Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta
"But it is very encouraging to see that we're moving more ships through the Canal safer and faster. These first quarter operational improvements are particularly impressive because we set safety and efficiency records the past two years," said Aleman. "The Canal has increased its focus on customer service and reliability while shifting to a management model that calls for operating the canal as a business rather than a utility. The operational improvements are a reflection of both that shift in philosophy and the efforts of our dedicated and innovative Canal employees," Aleman concluded.