Thursday, February 06 2014 @ 07:59 AM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Quijano made his first public statements after the deadline imposed by the GUPC expired and the parties were unable to reach a negotiated solution to the problem, to avoid a complete shutdown of work on the project.
Flanked by the Vice Presidents of the ACP, in a packed press room, Quijano said "the project can be saved for 2015."
In order to achieve that, "we have to act fast, because the dry season is ending," said Quijano. Much more work can be done during the months of the dry season (mid December to mid April) than during the rainy season.
While declining to go into details, Quijano said the ACP has a Plan B and there is no fear about the work that is left to be done. Right now the entire expansion project is about 70% completed.
Inside the halls of the ACP it is understood the slowdown of progress on the project and the recent cessation of activity by the GUPC is sufficient reason for termination of contract.
In fact , according to the contract, if the consortium "abandons all or a substantial part of the works, or demonstrates the intention not to continue the execution of their duties," is cause for termination of the contract.
However, Quijano refused to discuss further details of the strategy followed by the entity.
"We are going to observe all of the legal steps to be sure that our decisions, after having made a complete and total analysis of the situation, are correct and within the terms of the contract for us to continue this project."
About the eventual takeover of the project, Quijano said they would take action "at the appropriate time" and he said "we have to work with a cool head, although we have a warm heart."
The ACP does not want to make any false steps which could cause the loss of the $400 million performance bond held by the Zurich American insurance company.
Yesterday, both Quijano and the GUPC raised the tone their rhetoric, while the two sides exchanged accusations regarding the causes of the crisis.
With the protocol of negotiations having expired, both sides took off the gloves which in recent weeks had left them making diplomatic pronouncements about the good intentions all around.
Quijano, who has been summoned to speak before the National Assembly, spoke of "threats" and "blackmail," and he said because of the "the intentions of the GUPC against the best interests of Panama and the Canal," they were unable to reach an agreement, due to the "inflexible position of the consortium," that "who tried to negotiate exorbitant numbers that were not sustained, outside of the contract."
Meanwhile, the GUPC spoke about the "unreasonably rigid position" of the ACP, and they warned a breakdown in the negotiations would lead to "years of litigation and arbitration" and cause delays on the project of between three to five years, which would leave a "continuous shadow on the ACP and the Panama Canal."
Paradoxically, both sides said they were open to a possible reconsideration, although Quijano acknowledged that confidence has deteriorated. (Prensa)
Editor's Comment: Boy, I called that one. Now they ACP will very carefully and slowly pick their way through the legal minefield. They will find a way to boot the GUPC, take over the project, cash in the $400 million performance bond, and then sue the GUPC for the rest of the cost of the project. Boy, are the lawyers going to feed off of this one. The only thing I don't know yet is what contractor is going to pick it up. It will either be Odebrect or Bechtel, but I don't know which...