Though cracks were detected in the concrete walls of one of the locks of the newly expanded Panama Canal last month, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is maintaining an April 2016 start date for the revamped inter-oceanic waterway, reports Fox News.
ACP informed that the April 2016 date remains unchanged. It was waiting for the GUPC consortium, led by Spanish construction giant Sacyr Vallehermoso, to deliver it a report on the seepage that also states whether it will result in any delay in completing the expansion.
However, the waterway’s deputy administrator Manuel Benitez told Reuters “it is likely,” when asked if there was a risk of delay.
He added that he was waiting for an update from the consortium handling the multi-billion expansion before determining whether the revamped canal would be finished and open for business by April of next year.
The cracks in the Cocoli Locks on the canal’s Pacific side had been detected last month, and the Panama Canal Authority said
that it would not accept the project until all necessary repairs are conducted by GUPC.
The canal’s administrator, Jorge Quijano
, told Reuters earlier this year that he was now setting his sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow the waterway to handle the world’s biggest ships, via yet another even larger set of locks.
The USD 5.8 billion project is now 93% complete, the Authority says. Once complete, the expanded Panama Canal will be able to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels
, including container ships of up to 13,000 TEUs, more than doubling the existing maximum size of 5,000 TEU.
The 80-kilometer (50-mile) inter-oceanic waterway, which was under U.S. control from 1904 until Dec. 31, 1999, currently handles roughly 6 percent of global trade.