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Sunday, April 30 2017 @ 01:12 AM EDT

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The Expansion Of The Panama Canal Will Allow For Ships With Triple The Volume Capacity

Canal Expansion
Construction On The New Locks As Part Of The Project To Expand The Panama Canal
Construction On The New Locks As Part Of The Project To Expand The Panama Canal
The expansion of the Panama Canal, a project involving the Spanish company Sacyr Vallehermoso and the Panamanian company Constructora Urbana, will allow for the transit of vessels carrying three times the amount of cargo, compared to those currently using the existing Panama Canal, starting in October 2014. "I think it will be one of the engineering milestones of this century," said the Spanish engineer Ametller Sergi in Venice (northeastern Italy), who is the Electro-mechanical manager of the project, part of the consortium building the project - the Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) - which also includes the Italian company Impregilo and Belgium's Jan de Nul, responsible for building a third branch to join the two existing ones.

To achieve this they are using $3.2 billion dollars to build two new channel outputs, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific, through which will pass ships carrying 12,600 containers and of 366 meters in length, an increase from the current maximum of 4,400 containers and 294 meters in length of the ships that pass through the Panama Canal today.

Each of the exits to the ocean will consist of three water chambers closed with locks that will raise them the 27 meters between the two oceans and Lake Gatun - situated in the middle of the canal - and following the operation of such systems, boats advance to equilibrate the water level between adjacent chambers.

According to project leaders, the expansion will allow a ship to pass through the new locks on each side of the canal in about two hours, and to complete its passage through the Panama Canal in an average of 10 hours.

The difficulty of extending the canal lies in the dimensions of the work, which will have 158 valves and 16 gates, each weighing a total of 50,000 tons, which today are being built in factories that the Italian company Cimolai has close to Venice.

"The gates are the most technically complex part of the project," said Ametller, who explained that, while those already installed in the channel are hinged, the new gates are on rollers and they have a height equivalent to a 20-story building, and that a good portion of their interior is empty so they can be dragged to close and open the lock.

As explained by the Spanish engineer, the gates operate in a dual system to ensure that in case of breakdown, the branch continues to operate and there are different sizes depending on the ocean side where they are located.

"The biggest ones will be on the Pacific side where there is the most seismic hazard, and because the tides are higher," noted the manager, who said they are being built with "100% European steel" from Italy, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Germany and Poland, and they will be moved by boat to Panama - "in fours" - during 2013 for testing in early 2014 and to have completed the project on October 21, 2014.

The largest of these gates are 33 meters high and weigh 4,300 tons, and the installation of these structures will begin on the Atlantic side once they have built the concrete base on which they will be placed through a mechanism calculated down to the millimeter by the engineers who designed the enlargement.

A system side pools allows for the reuse of 60% of the water in each compartment, so as to reduce the total consumption by 7%, and the operation of the facility will be reviewed from a number of control points.

The passage of water from the lake to the compartments and between the pools shall be regulated through the use of 158 valves built by the Hyundai car company in Korea.

The consortium estimates that a large freighter passing through the Canal will use about 200 million liters of water, but that the ship be "more efficient" and "in smaller numbers" and on the other hand will have less of an impact than a larger number of smaller vessels, according to the environmental manager, Panamanian Luis Villarreal.

GUPC should guarantee 99.6% availability for navigation, or they could be penalized and they even might have to take over the maintenance of enlargement during the first two years following the completion of the project.

But officials of the consortium are optimistic because the project is "under constant audit" and "tests", and so far 15% of the work on the gates has been completed, so that the timetables fall in line with the deadlines, concluded Ametller. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Designed by a Spanish engineer. Valves built by Hyundai. And a Panamanian environmentalist. What could go wrong?

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Delay Confirmed on Panama Canal Expansion Project

Canal ExpansionPanama Canal Authority officials have announced on national television that the Canal expansion project, which is expected to result in lower shipping costs and emissions as well as greater capacity and efficiency, has fallen six months behind schedule. The $5.25 billion dollar expansion project will result in an increased beam constraint from 32.2 meters to 49 meters enabling larger ships to transport more goods in fewer trips. According to a study in the International Journal of Maritime Engineering and referenced in the Nature News Blog, the potential savings in both fuel and reduced emissions may be as great as 16% per tonne-mile.

Delays - On April 4 2012 it was reported by the Journal of Commerce that the consortium responsible for building the new locks, Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), submitted a letter to the Panama Canal Authority with a new work schedule indicating an expected completion date six months behind the original target date of October 2014 - 100 years after the canal was first completed. According to Alberto Aleman Zubieta, the Panama Canal Authority's Chief Executive Officer, "the company is trying to catch up with lost time."

In December of 2011, the project was reported to be "at least one year behind schedule" and in March 2012, Zubieta said the project was "delayed at least seven months," and that GUPC was accelerating the work in an attempt to make the original deadline. According to the contract, a penalty of $300,000 per day will be applied if GUPC cannot complete the locks on time.

In an early June statement by the Panama Canal Authority, officials reported that the first monolith for the new locks was completed, marking an important milestone. The delay to April 2015 is a result of GUPC's difficulty in meeting its contractual agreements for the standards of the concrete mix for the locks, which delayed the laying of the concrete from January to July of 2011. (shipandbunker.com)

Editor's Comment: This isn't news for Panama Guide readers. I was the first one to report on the real and factual details of these delays, and only now the contractors and representative from the Panamanian government are starting to begrudgingly accept and report the facts. They fell way behind, and then were still falling farther behind and have since been trying like hell to make up for lost time. They have been trying to blame the delays on one thing or another, but my inside sources tell me the delays are actually being caused mostly by poor or inadequate management of the movement of people and logistics on the job site. They tell me stories of heavy equipment that can't move because there's no fuel for it, things like that. But guess what? Name one very large public works project that has not faced any delays. There are none. All large projects such as this are bound to face delays, sooner or later. However the bottom line won't change very much. The expanded Panama Canal will eventually be completed, more and larger ships will pass through, the government of Panama will make even more money off of the canal, and everything will be just fine.

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Bigger Panama canal, more trade?

Canal ExpansionBy Matthew Waller - SAN ANGELO, Texas — Whether the Panama Canal expansion means more trade for Texas remains to be seen, but even if that's not the case, San Angelo could see increased shipments of goods from Mexico, San Angelo's state Rep. Drew Darby said. The Panama Canal plans to double its capacity by 2014, and the ports around the East Coast, and ports on the Texas coast, are gearing up to receive bigger ships. "I think it's unclear as to how much additional trade will come to Texas or through Texas," Darby said.

Darby is part of the Texas House Transportation Committee, which held hearings recently to determine whether transportation infrastructure such as railways and highways were ready to handle any increased trade coming as a result of the expansion. Testimony at the hearings indicated that it takes about 10 days to two weeks less time to truck goods from California than to go through the Panama Canal to Houston, which needs to deepen its port to receive the larger ships that will come through the enlarged Panama Canal, Darby said. Even so, the expanded canal could have an effect on goods coming through San Angelo as progress continues on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, Darby said.

The corridor is a 2,300-mile stretch of highways from Canada to Mexico that runs through San Angelo. Part of the overall vision is to also have improved rail service so goods can be sent east and west when they reach San Angelo, making the city a central transit hub. "I think it may be a while in coming, but I think with us being a hub for rail and highway, we should see increased trade," Darby said. He said that Mexican ports could take in more goods from the Panama Canal and end up shipping those north through Texas, and San Angelo, as well.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Yantis Green, who has been in contact with county commissioners on the Texas coast, is optimistic. He said commissioners at conferences he has attended are abuzz with preparations to have an influx of traffic from their port authorities, which are beginning to deepen, widen and dredge their ports. "I think you'll see a gradual increase in commercial shipping in East Texas," Green said. Moreover, goods that come to Texas could be less expensive, thanks to the bigger boats, he said. "The more you can put on a ship at one time, the cheaper it is," he said.

Part of the hope is that the transportation of goods from the Texas ports will flow through San Angelo once it becomes more established as part of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. "What we're seeing is there is some more opportunity for more and more freight to come into Texas," Michael Reeves, the president of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, said of the Panama Canal expansion. He said most of the corridor is focused on moving goods from Mexican ports, but San Angelo could take advantage of the increase in trade overall, citing as an example the possibility of moving goods from Corpus Christi to Denver, with San Angelo in that trade route. "From the importing perspective, it could lower transportation costs," Reeves said. (San Angelo Standard - Times)

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New Container Port Will Be Built In Panama For $600 Million Dollars To Compliment Expansion of Panama Canal

Canal ExpansionThe Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) issued permission to a development group to build a new container terminal at the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal. This initiative is to complement the project to expand the Panama Canal, to help manage the increasing volumes of cargo. The construction of the new terminal will cost more than $600 million dollars, which will be called the Panama Colon Container Terminal. This port wants to be one of the largest private marine infrastructure projects in Panama, and the first terminal to be built within the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone.

The construction work is planned to start during the summer of 2012. This terminal will be capable of handling container ships up to 18,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), designed to support more than 2 million TEUs in the initial performance, with future expansion capabilities and offers for additional storage facilities and logistics; and is expected to be completed and operational before the opening of the Panama Canal in late 2014.

The expansion of the Panama Canal at a cost of 5.2 billion dollars, is built to handle a large flow of traffic and to accommodate the next generation of ships "Super Post-Panamax" so named because they exceed the limitations size of the existing Canal. The ports on the West Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, the East, South America and the Caribbean do not have the capacity to receive vessels of this size, and with this new port the problem will be solved.

John Carver, leader of the group of Aeropuertos, Puertos e Infraestructura Global (PAGI) of Jones Lang LaSalle, said the Transit Terminal will have a significant impact in the new era of the Panama Canal. This was the first terminal designed for the Canal expansion and will increase the strategic value of Panama as the primary global axis for shipping. The Grupo de Proyectos de Desarrollo of Jones Lang LaSalle will soon begin to manage the process of supply and marine dredging and construction elements. (Telemetro)

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Panama Canal Expansion Workers Go On Strike After Accidental Death

Canal Expansion
Construction Workers On The Panama Canal Expansion Project Go On Strike
Construction Workers On The Panama Canal Expansion Project Go On Strike
The construction workers who are working on the project to expand the Panama Canal in the area of Cocoli declared a strike on Friday, 13 April 2012, to demand greater safety measures when performing their duties, after one worker died in the early morning hours. A man with a last name of Hurtado, the leader of the workers, told TVN that the strike is an act of solidarity over the death of the worker Luis Guardia, who was a mechanic, and they are sure he had children. He added Guardia's death came just after representatives of the workers reported to the ACP safety problems where they work. On the other hand, said they expect answers after delivering a set of demands about what they expect in the area of safety, but they have not yet received a response. "We are trying to make a legal fight," said Hurtado. (Estrella)
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Panama Canal Expansion Project Now Officially Delayed At Least Six Months - Probably More

Canal ExpansionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - According to an article published today by the Journal of Commerce, the consortium responsible for building the third set of locks as part of the project to expand the Panama Canal, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, has officially reported to the Panama Canal Authority they will not be able to deliver the project on time. In a letter GUPC told the Panama Canal authority the project will not be delivered until April 2015, some six months past the required date of October 2014. According to the contract, the GUPC faces penalties of $300,000 per day if it cannot complete the locks on time, up to a maximum of $54 million dollars. The entire contract was for $3.2 billion dollars so therefore the maximum possible penalty represents about 1.7% of the total contract value. Here's a link to the article in the Journal of Commerce.

Not News For You: All of this, of course, is not news for Panama Guide readers. I've been reporting for months the delivery of the third set of locks is going to be severely delayed. Everyone is now focusing on this "quality of the cement" issue as the culprit to blame, but according to my sources the real problems causing the delays are mismanagement of the execution of the project - little things like making sure vehicles are fueled - stuff like that. There are delays and setbacks and when they check to see the "why" and "what happened" that's what they are finding, not bad cement. Anyway, apparently now the government of Panama, the GUPC, and the Panama Canal Administration have figured out you simply can't keep something this big and important under wraps. With the publication of this article, I'll be checking in with my sources to see if the new projected delivery date of April 2015 is even remotely possible. According to what they've already told me, my initial response would be "wishful thinking." Ricardo Martinelli's administration has to slowly let the air out of this balloon so it can't pop in their faces come the elections of May 2014.

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Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Three Qualified To Bid On Third Bridge Over Panama Canal Project

Canal ExpansionTwo consortiums and one company prequalified to participate in the bidding for the construction of a new bridge over the Panama Canal on the Caribbean end. Acciona Infraestructuras -Tradeco (Spain and Mexico), Odebrecht – Hyundai Joint Venture (Brazil and Korea), and Vinci Construction Grands Projets (France) are the three prequalified bidders that will now go to the second stage, which will select the contractor to actually build the new bridge. This second phase begins with the delivery by the Panama Canal Authority of a statement of objections with the design and specifications, a site visit for those who have prequalified, and the receipt of proposals, in August 2012. (Siglo)

Related Articles:

  • Panama To Build New Third Bridge Over Panama Canal - 9 December 2010

  • A Third Bridge Over The Panama Canal Will Cost $300 Million Dollars - 5 April 2011

  • Prequalification For Companies To Build New Bridge Over The Panama Canal in Colon - 5 March 2012

    Editor's Comment: Part of the grand strategy for the future development of Panama includes the construction of a new highway along the entire Atlantic coast that would link Bocas del Toro with the province of Colon, in order to open this area up to development. Right now the road along the "lower coast" of the province of Colon ends at Miguel de la Borda. Building this highway would open all kinds of brand new beachfront property up for future development. Right now it's practically worthless, because you can't drive there, there are no services, etc.

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    Construction Of Third Bridge Over Panama Canal in Colon Will Start in October 2012

    Canal Expansion
    Alberto Alemán Zubieta - Administrator of the Panama Canal
    Alberto Alemán Zubieta - Administrator of the Panama Canal
    The Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, testified today before the National Assembly to give a report about his tenure as the manager of the Panama Canal. Appearing before the Infrastructure Commission in the Blue Room of the legislative building, Alemán Zubieta asked for a bidding process to be conducted to build a one kilometer long bridge over the Panama Canal in Colon, to benefit the communities located in the Western sector of the province of Colon, whose only means of access to the province is currently through the Gatun locks. Alemán Zubieta estimated that construction of the bridge would start in the month of October 2012, after it is determined which of the three companies that are interested in bidding will be the one to build the vital road link.

    He also said the conflicts that arose which caused the work stoppage by the workers of the Panama Canal expansion project have been resolved. Alemán Zubieta said on RPC Radio that these conflicts were due to the withholding of taxes that "apparently were not made when the workforce was adjusted, so therefore the Ministry of Economy and Finance was seeking the appropriate adjustments, and there were many complaints from the workers about this issue."

    Finally Alberto Alemán Zubieta, who is in his final months as Manager of the Panama Canal until Jorge Quijano takes his office on 4 September 2012, said the delays caused by the rejection of concrete that had occurred in the Panama Canal expansion project, have been recovered. (Panama America)

    Editor's Comment: Wow. That's amazing. Just fifteen days ago, on 12 March 2012, Alberto Alemán Zubieta said the project to expand the Panama Canal would be delayed by at least seven months. And today he said those delays have been made up? I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. It's a massive "open secret" in Panama - absolutely everyone knows that the Panama Canal expansion project is woefully behind schedule (truth and fact). However what's also true and factual is that absolutely no one will talk about it. Not the company. Not the government. Nobody. For political reasons the truth about the delays are going to be covered up. My sources continue to tell me the delays keep piling up, and meanwhile everyone is trying to put on a happy face in public. I expect the "truth" will be suppressed until at least after the elections in May 2014. Well, it would probably be more accurate to say they will try or intend to hide the delays, and I expect the opposition politicians from the PRD and Panameñistas might use it to their advantage, making allegations of mismanagement, cost overruns, etc.

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    "Panama Canal Expansion Project Delayed At Least Seven Months" - Alberto Alemán Zubieta

    Canal ExpansionFaced with a delay of at least seven months in the project to expand the Panama Canal, by the contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), they are accelerating the work as much as they can in order to deliver the finished work in the time stipulated (October 2014), said today Alberto Alemán Zubieta, who is still the Administrator of the Panama Canal. Alemán Zubieta said the work of pouring cement was supposed to start in January 2011 but it did not start in fact until July 2011. Therefore, the company has brought in more equipment and qualified personnel to accelerate the work, he said. He explained the delay was due to the pouring of concrete. He said the contractor was not allowed to start pouring concrete because the mixture did not have the specifications as ordered for this type of work (the third set of locks), as detailed in the signed contract.

    Alberto Alemán Zubieta will be the Administrator of the Panama Canal until 3 September 2012. Only after that date will he consider other job offers, because before he can only focus on his work. Meanwhile, he is preparing writings on the period he was in charge of inter-oceanic canal, for future reference. (La Estrella)

    Editor's Comment: Cleanup. Now that Alberto Alemán Zubieta knows he will not be continuing as the Administrator of the Panama Canal, he decided to come out publicly with what I've been reporting since 1 December 2011. Thank you very much, my confidential sources - you guys were right on the money. And until now I was practically the only news outlet (anywhere) reporting on the delays. The Panama Canal Authority was covering it up. The government of Panama was not about to discuss it in public. And of course the GUPC company wasn't going to talk about it, either. So no one wanted to talk, so no news, and no reporting on this important issue. Alberto Alemán Zubieta is saying the GUPC company was not allowed to pour cement because the mix they were using was not up to standards. And now they are supposedly going to bring in more bodies and equipment to make up for lost time. At this point I don't know if it's even possible for them to make up for lost time, to catch up, and to get back on schedule for a 2014 completion. Right now I see that as "slim, to none."

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    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Movement Of Heavy Equipment Starting For Canal Expansion Project

    Canal ExpansionStarting now and until Saturday 10 March 2012, and during the schedule of Monday through Sunday from 8:00 am until 7:00 pm, the Consorcio Borinquen, a subcontractor for the Consorcio Grupo Unidos por el Canal S.A. (GUPCSA), will be moving loads of over-sized and heavy equipment, including hydraulic excavators, using both articulated and fixed trucks, from the Port of Manzanillo, passing through the highway that links Panama City to Colon. The trucks will then follow the Northern Corridor, down the Centennial Way, cross the Centennial Bridge, then the Borinquen Highway to the project area in Cocolí. The shipments will be made with escort vehicles, and with the corresponding permits from the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT). This equipment will be used as part of the work for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks in the Pacific Sector. (Panama America)

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    Panama Canal chief scolded the U.S. for not expanding ports

    Canal ExpansionBy WALTER C. JONES - Morris News Service - ATLANTA — The administrator of the Panama Canal chastised U.S. and Canadian officials Tuesday for not preparing their ports to take advantage of the expansion his country is undertaking. Alberto Aleman Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, stressed that Panama is doubling the canal’s capacity by widening its system of locks and waterways to accommodate ships three times the current maximum. But Panama won’t realize the full benefits if East Coast ports aren’t also enhanced to accept those ships. “What concerns me is how long it takes to do these types of projects and that they are not now being done in the U.S.,” Aleman was quoted as saying by Modern Materials Handling magazine.

    He made his comments to the logistics managers attending the inaugural trade show of MODEX, sponsored by the Material Handling Industry of America. In two years, the canal will celebrate its 100th anniversary with the completion of its expansion project. East Coast ports like Savannah, Jacksonville and Charleston hope to attract that added traffic. However, none are deep enough for the larger ships to enter fully loaded except at high tide. Only ports in New York and Virginia can now.

    Georgia officials are busy lobbying Washington for federal funding to deepen the Savannah River shipping channel. South Carolina officials are working just as hard to block it in hopes of steering the new business to Charleston.

    Aleman, who recognizes that the canal’s income depends on the attractiveness of all the East Coast ports, urged rapid action. “You must realize that you are in a globalized economy. If you do not do it, someone else will. If you don’t capture those markets, someone else will,” he said. He also delivered a sales pitch to the attendees convention who weren’t public officials. He told them that the canal’s expansion makes it attractive for them as shippers to use, either for connection between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans or as a port for reaching inland destinations. “Panama is the only port with terminals in two oceans,” he said. “It is just 80 kilometers from ocean to ocean, and we have more port cranes in Panama than Chile, Mexico and Brazil.”

    Aleman’s comments to the shippers at the inaugural MODEX convention was designed to convince them to opt for the all-water route from places like China to the U.S. East Coast, via the canal. Many shippers currently unload their wares at West Coast ports and use an overland route of rail or truck to get them to markets in the East.

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    Labor Minister Threatens To Abandon Strike Talks

    Canal Expansion Talks between the striking workers and the consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) continued today with the mediation of Labor Minister Alma Cortez in an attempt to resolve the strike, which started on Monday, 16 January 2012. The Trade Union of Construction Workers and Similar (SUNTRACS), which supports the striking workers, called for a raise to $9.00 per hour for skilled workers and $5.40 per hour for assistants. This Saturday they lowered their proposal to $8.00 per hour for skilled workers and $5.23 for assistants. The government proposed an increase of 12.5% for skilled workers and 15% for assistants. Their initial proposal was for a 5% increase. But things have gotten complicated. Labor Minister Cortez warned that if an agreement is not reached today, the government will withdraw from the negotiating table. "Right now we're at an impasse, the workers brought their indications, the instructions from their members, and they have remained at that point," she said. Cortes said she asked them not to do that, because they have come a long way. At approximately 12:42 they called for a half hour break. This Sunday (tomorrow) Cortés goes on a trip to Washington and President Ricardo Martinelli departs on Monday for Davos, Switzerland. (Estrella)

    Editor's Comment: I don't care what the Labor Minister had planned in Washington DC for next week, but no matter what it is, the strike that has effectively shut down the project to expand the Panama Canal is the most important thing she could possibly be doing with her time. Her handling of this strike will mark the administration, either for the good or the bad. If she hops on a plane to attend some gaggle in DC - without having first resolved this strike - then that's a massive "phale" on her scorecard. Think about it. Panama. Panama Canal. Panama Canal Expansion Project. $5.25 billion (with a "B") dollars. And she wants to go screw around in DC? What could be more important? Explain it to me. Is the United Nations having a regional symposium on the impact of the development of cellulite in the butt cheeks of office workers who spend too much time at a computer desk or something? Yeah, I'm sure her attendance there is critical. The workers have just said they would remain on strike and wait for her to get back. Great. Good call. (Fucking unbelievable...)

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    Panama Canal Expansion Strike Enters Sixth Day - Negotiations Continue

    Canal ExpansionNegotiations between the consortium consorcio Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) and the construction workers who have been on strike since Monday who are building the third set of locks as part of the project to expand the Panama Canal continued their discussions and negotiations on Saturday, 21 January 2012, at 11:00 am at the headquarters of the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development in Plaza Edison on Tumba Muerto, mediated by Labor Minister Alma Cortez. Juan Arce, a spokesman for the strikers, told La Prensa that during the previous days of negotiations the workers have been lowering the percentage of the wage increase they are demanding because they have noticed the government's willingness to negotiate. The government made a proposal for a 5% increase, which was countered by the workers with a demand for $8.25 per hour for skilled laborers and $5.15 per hour for assistants, that according to the spokesman "is a salary that is commensurate with reality." On the other hand, Arce said yesterday, Friday, after having spent more than eight hours in negotiations, they failed to reach an agreement, so therefore the workers will remain on strike until they receive a definitive answer. "The important thing in these negotiations is to reach a favorable agreement for all," he said. The striking workers continue to demand a wage increase, the payment of overtime worked, better security and safety on the job site, improved transportation for the workers, and other requests. (Prensa)
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    Panama Canal Expansion Strike Enters Fifth Day

    Canal ExpansionThe strike by the workers of the Consortium Unidos por el Canal who are building the new third set of locks as part of the project to expand the Panama Canal enters its fifth day. The strike is costing the company about $2 million dollars per day. Yesterday, representatives for the striking workers held a marathon meeting with the company, with mediation by the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development and with the presence of a member of the Panama Canal Authority as an observer, but no consensus was reached. The Minister of Labor, Alma Cortez, said the losses must be borne by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), but this position has to be supported by legal authorities. There were ACP officials present at the talks, but they did not participate.

    Little progress: In the two days of talks held by the parties they have only discussed three of the 27 items on the list of demands. The points discussed and refer to a demand for a wage increase, the installation of a "micro-commission" related to the disputes between labor and management, and the creation of a regulation to disclose the mechanism for the payment of overtime to the workers. Jorge Federico Lee, a lawyer for the company GUPC, said the pay raise issue should be taken as a priority item of analysis. He also said the 24 remaining points on the list of demands put forward by the workers will be taken to the committee of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) and SUNTRACS.

    Sanctions: According to Minister Cortes, due to the errors committed by GUPC, such as the payments for working on Sundays and for overtime, among others, the company will be sanctioned with fines from $500 to $1,000 for each worker affected.

    Saul Mendez, Secretary of the Sole Union of Construction and Allied Workers (SUNTRACS), said the strike will continue. The construction workers union approved protests and demonstrations in other provinces around the country in support of the strike. (Siglo)

    Editor's Comment: The longer this strike goes on, the more attention it's going to be getting from the international community. The wages to be paid to the construction workers are established in the contract signed between the GUPC and the government. The men who are working on this project are already getting paid more than most other construction workers in the country. GUPC has a payroll of about 6,000 workers. By law they can have as many as 15% foreigners - or 900 foreign workers - working on this project. Right now they only have about 225 or so foreigners on the books, total. I bet they will start bringing in more foreign workers ASAP - from Honduras - as a stop-gap measure.

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    Labor Minister Threatens To Take Over Administration Of Panama Canal Expansion Company

    Canal ExpansionLabor Minister Alma Cortés warned today she would sanction the Grupo Unidos por el Canal and would not accept GUPC's excuse that their software was wrong because she will not set a bad precedent. "What I did tell the company was that we are not going to permit their excuse that the software was wrong, because if I allow that thesis, then I will have to allow it for I don't know how many other companies in the country, and that would set a bad precedent," said Cortez. So far, the consortium led by the Spanish company Sacyr and also comprised of Italy's Impregilo, Belgium's Jan de Nul and the Panamanian company CUSA, have excused themselves, saying that "we had implemented a new payroll system that despite three successful tests conducted together with the supplier, there was an error in the amount paid to workers for the first half of January."

    Labor Minister Cortes said she could not understand why the striking construction workers have not make an official request through the correct legal channels so that "we can take over the administration (of the company) and verify their accounts." So far, the MITRADEL authorities have repeated they will sanction the company with fines as established in the Penal Code for breach of contract with the workers, but they had not (yet) raised the possibility of taking over the administration of the company.

    The Panama Canal Authority appealed to the parties to reach an agreement, but said other parts of the project to expand the Panama Canal are ongoing and that the waterway is providing normal service, because the strikers did not work for the Panama Canal Authority. (TVN)

    Editor's Comment: Holy shit! The Ministry of Labor might take over the administration of GUPC? And if you look at the video of the statements made by the Labor Minister, she is practically "coaching" the workers to make this request. She said it like "I don't know why that haven't asked us to do this..." meaning, if you ask, we will do it. Wow. The statements being made by the Panama Canal Authority are clearly an effort to assuage the worries of the international shipping community. This strike is now in its fourth day, and all of the international news wires are starting to pick it up. The Panama Canal Authorities message - that the Panama Canal is operating normally, that other parts of the expansion are continuing normally, and that the striking workers don't work for the Panama Canal - are aimed at them. But the part of the project affected by the strike is the critically important construction of the third set of locks on both ends of the new canal. That part of the project is already behind schedule, and it's slipping further and further with each passing day. And in her statements and actions Labor Minister Cortés has repeatedly expressed her support for the position of the workers. Why? Maybe Martinelli wants to take over the administration of this consortium in order to get a better look at their inner workings? Maybe he's reading Panama Guide and he knows they are falling way behind schedule? Maybe he knows that if he was running the expansion program himself it would be more efficient? Maybe there's nothing else left to take over? It's probably a combination of all of those things. Stand by, this one could get really, really interesting.

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    Panama Canal Expansion Strike Enters Fourth Day

    Canal ExpansionThree party talks continue this morning between striking construction workers, the company working to expand the Panama Canal, and the Ministry of Labor. The talks started at 10:00 am in the Ministry of Labor offices in Plaza Edison on Tumba Muerto in Panama City, and they seek to find a resolution to this labor conflict. Today the strike enters its fourth day. Yesterday, Wednesday, 18 January 2012, the striking workers met with representatives from the consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal, mediated by the Minister of Labor and Workforce Development, Alma Cortez, but they failed to reach an agreement.

    Genaro Lopez, the leader of the Sole Union of Construction and Allied Workers (SUNTRACS) told La Prensa the negotiations are locked on the issue of a wage increase. "The strike is continue if there is no agreement," said Lopez. He said SUNTRACS will be represented by Saúl Méndez and David Niño, and the meeting will also be attended by delegates selected by the groups of striking workers from both the Atlantic and Pacific sectors.

    Demands: Lopez said the company has not wanted to agree to a wage increase for the workers. With regards to the demands related to transportation, safety and security measures, and the payment of overtime, he said eventually these issues will be discussed, but for now they will focus on the wage increase. Lopez insisted that the government has to make a decision on this issue, and what can be done via a decree in order to reform Executive Order Number 4 of March 1980, which regulates worker's salaries. The SUNTRACS labor union leaders and the construction workers themselves are demanding that their wages be the same as those who work for the Panama Canal Authority. (Prensa)

    Editor's Comment: Yesterday in the midst of this strike a story was released saying the government of Panama is planning to allow construction workers from Honduras come to Panama in order to work on the Panama Canal expansion project. According to that article, and unskilled laborer would be paid about $1,000 per month, or about twice what is being paid to the Panamanian workers. Obviously the Panamanian workers want more money. Let's see how this works out. Every day lost during the dry season hurts, a lot. This project is already way behind schedule, and there's no way it gets delivered by 15 August 2014 - none.

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    Construction Workers Stone SUNTRACS Leader in Colon

    Canal ExpansionThe leader of the National Union of Workers and Similar (SUNTRACS), Genaro Lopez, was met with stones and insults hurled by more than 1,000 striking construction workers who have paralyzed the project to expand the Panama Canal in the sector of Gatun, on the Atlantic side. Lopez arrived at about 9:00 am yesterday morning to try to talk to the workers from the company Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), who have been on strike since Monday. They booed him and called him a traitor because they say he has not supported the working class as he should. At the moment when the SUNTRACS leader was talking to the press, one worked flipped off his helmet and another threw a stone, causing a confrontation among some of the leaders of this union in Colon and the GUPC workers, so Lopez decided to retreat to his car, and at that moment the workers threw more stones. His pick-up took some shots. (Siglo)

    Editor's Comment: SUNTRACS collects 2% of every member's paycheck as dues, every month. If the average construction worker makes about $450 per month, that's $9.00 dollars. There are about 6,000 workers on strike. Multiply the $9 bucks a month times 6,000 workers, and that's $54,000 dollars SUNTRACS is received from these guys, every month. Over the course of a year that comes to a total of $648,000 dollars. This project started last year and the construction will run for at last five years, bringing the total in labor union dues to more than $3.2 million dollars. Yeah, it's about time that someone told Lopez to shove off.

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    Panama Canal Administrator Says "There's No Need To Strike"

    Canal ExpansionThe work to expand the Panama Canal in the sector of Cocoli has been paralyzed by striking construction workers who are working on the project, who demand better wages and benefits. Panama Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta German called what is happening an "unfortunate situation," and he called for an atmosphere of tranquility to discuss or negotiate the issues. "There is no reason to stop the work, we as Panamanians should feel responsible for the construction that is a project for the world," said Zubieta while speaking to RPC news. He said an internal "fight" between the union and the workers is compounding the issue. The Minister of Labor and Workforce Development, Alma Cortez, visited on Tuesday, 18 January 2012, the area where the work is being done to expand the Panama Canal, in Cocolí, to discuss and reach agreement with the workers who also were in that sector. "You are builders, people who who build and not destroy, we will support you," said the minister. A meeting was scheduled at the regional headquarters of the MITRADEL in Balboa with representatives of the ACP, the company Grupo Unidos por el Canal, and the workers, to find a solution to the problem. (Panama America)
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    Panama Canal Expansion Strike Enters Third Day - Talks Begin

    Canal ExpansionThe striking construction workers from the company Grupo Unidos por el Canal designated eleven representatives to negotiate with the company under the mediation of Labor Minister Alma Cortez. Minister Cortez went to Cocolí where she spoke with the striking workers to tell them they all should be treated equally and they should not be discriminated against in terms of wages. "You are the builders of this mega-project" she said, as she received the applause from the workers who are now entering their third day of the strike. The workers are demanding more buses for transportation, the reinstatement of workers who were dismissed for supposedly no reason, and other economic demands. (Critica)

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    Workers strike Panama Canal expansion project

    Canal ExpansionPANAMA CITY (AP) – About 6,000 workers have gone on strike for higher wages at a $5.25 billion project to widen the Panama Canal to accommodate larger ships. Workers representative Rolando Gonzalez says the employees want the base wage raised from $2.90 per hour to $4.90, and the wage for the most skilled workers raised from $3.52 per hour to $7.10. Employees of the multinational construction consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal claim the firm has failed to pay them some overtime and vacation pay. They are also complaining about deficient workplace safety. Gonzalez said Tuesday the strike will continue indefinitely. The company acknowledged in a press statement that some data-entry errors apparently had been committed when the company recently switched payroll systems.
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    Panama Canal expansion halted amid labor dispute

    Canal ExpansionWork on the Panama Canal expansion ground to a halt yesterday after a bitter labor dispute resulted in the walkout of thousands of workers. According to the workers union, the largest in the country, its members left their posts yesterday in demand of better working conditions and the payment of back wages. “Work is completely paralyzed, on the Pacific and the Atlantic side,” said Saul Mendez, head of the National Union of Workers in Construction and Allied Industries. The Panama Canal, responsible for five percent of the world’s yearly trade, is currently undergoing a US$5.25 billion expansion to allow the world’s largest vessels to safely navigate the 102-mile waterway. According to Mendez, union members are also demanding a rise in the basic minimum wage of $2.90 an hour given to the majority of workers on site, and a stop to the mistreatment of workers by foreign foreman overseeing the project.

    Monday’s labor stoppage was followed by a day of protests including the burning of tires, according to MSN News. Construction contractor the United Group has strongly denied the allegations, stating that it “fully complies with the pay and working conditions and it is very respectful of Panamanian regulations.” However, the United Group has admitted that the distribution of wages had been miscalculated by a local contractor due to what it calls “errors in the incorporation of data”. The United Group added that they are currently working on rectifying the situation.

    The Panama Canal has generated a total of $6.6 billion for the Central American country since the control of the vital waterway was handed over by the United States over a decade ago. The Panama Canal expansion is scheduled to be completed by 2014. (porttechnology.org)

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    Heavy Equipment Move As Part Of Canal Expansion Project (Public Announcement)

    Canal ExpansionThe contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPCSA), responsible for building the new third set of locks as part of the project to expand the Panama Canal, informs the general public that due to the work of the project: Design and Construction of Third Set of Locks - Pacific Sector - they will be conducting the transportation of the steel plates for the installation of the new lock gates from the Port of Balboa to the project area in Cocolí, from Thursday, 12 January until Monday, 23 January 2012. For this activity they will be using the route: Leaving the Port of Balboa - Northern Corridor - Centennial Bridge - Inter American Highway - Cocolí. It was reported for this activity they have received the proper permits from the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority, to move cargo from Monday to Sunday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPCSA) apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this movement of cargo. (Estrella)

    Editor's Comment: Apparently these things are too big and heavy to go over the Bridge of the Americas, so they have to take the long way around over the Centennial Bridge.

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    "Digging The Panama Canal" - Photos From Helicopter Tour Over Panama Canal Expansion (30 Dec 2011)

    Canal ExpansionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Very nice. Thanks Jack. These photos were taken by Jack B. Hood, who went on a helicopter tour over the Panama Canal on 30 December 2011. When I started watching the YouTube video the first thing I thought was "I wish you had a video camera" because the video is really a collection of still photos. Very nice still photos mind you, that document the progress being made on the project to expand the Panama Canal to date, but lately I've been getting more and more into video. And then at the end of the video when I saw the credits, I realized that the photographer also wrote and sang the song "Digging The Panama Canal" in 1977, and he's also an accomplished banjo player. So you get photos, a tour, and music all in one. Thanks again for sharing this with me, Jack.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Expansion Of Panama Canal Causing Panic in California

    Canal Expansion By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times - A major expansion of the Panama Canal is raising alarms in Southern California, where business, labor and public officials are warning that the project threatens to dent the region's role in international trade.

    The $5.25-billion project will make the canal wider and deeper, allowing huge freighters from Asia to bypass West Coast ports and head straight to terminals on the Gulf Coast and East Coast. The neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40% of the nation's imported Asian goods, could lose as much as a quarter of their cargo business by some estimates after the Panama expansion is completed in 2014.

    The ports, neighboring towns and railroads have launched improvement projects aimed at keeping them competitive. One proposed project, for instance, would speed the loading of cargo onto trains; others eliminate bottlenecks or increase capacity so that the ports remain alluring to importers. But a coalition of business, labor and government contends that these efforts are jeopardized by opposition from some residents, environmental groups and others.

    Two members of the Long Beach City Council, for example, sought to block the construction of a new railroad freight complex near the ports, saying it would increase pollution and force small businesses to relocate. (more)

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    Panama Canal Expansion 32% Advanced (Inadvertent Confirmation of Delays)

    Canal Expansion The project to expand the Panama Canal has advanced by 32%, said on Wednesday, December 21, Jorge L. Quijano, the Executive Vice President of Engineering and Management of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). Quijano said as of 30 November 2011 a total of $4.257 billion dollars in contracts had been awarded, which is within the budget of $5.25 billion dollars approved to conduct the canal expansion program. PROGRESS - In a talk with reporters, Quijano explained the progress of the projects being made in the canal expansion program.

    The design and construction of the new third set of locks has advanced by 16%. The Pacific access channel in four phases has progressed by 65%, and the dredging of the entrance to the Pacific by 84%. Meanwhile, the deepening and widening of Gatun Lake and Gaillard Cut has advanced by 62%, and the dredging in the Atlantic access channel has advanced by 97%. (See Comments)

    For the ACP an expanded Panama Canal will further improve the position of the country in world trade, and it will also give the entity the ability to provide global guidance on project management. (Prensa)

    Editor's Comment: There you go. There's official confirmation of the articles I published about the expansion project at the start of this month. Remember these articles? Panama Canal Expansion - "A Train Wreck Waiting To Happen" published on 1 December 2011 and Expansion of Panama Canal Now "At Least One Year Behind Schedule" (Cover-up) published on 6 December 2011. I was contacted by several individuals in late November and early December 2011 who expressed their concerns over the lack of progress being made on the Panama Canal expansion project, specifically with regards to the construction of the third set of locks. They explained to me how the project was falling behind schedule, and how every day they were actually getting less work done than was programmed. As a result they were falling further and further behind schedule with each passing day. In those articles I described how the construction of the third set of locks was supposed to be 28% done by now, and my inside sources told me only 17% had been completed. And now in this official press conference by the ACP they announced officially that only 16% of the work on the third set of locks has been completed. Of course the local journalists who covered this press conference simply lapped up the numbers as they were presented, and none of them had the knowledge or background information needed to be able to ask Quijano about the allegations of delays on the third set of locks construction. Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, this is official confirmation of my earlier reporting. And sure, overall the project might be 32% done, but the key element (the third set of locks) is way, way behind schedule and falling further behind every day.

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    Expansion of Panama Canal Now "At Least One Year Behind Schedule" (Cover-up)

    Canal ExpansionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - On Thursday, 1 December 2011 I published an article entitled Panama Canal Expansion - "A Train Wreck Waiting To Happen". The basic premise of that article is that the project to expand the Panama Canal is way behind schedule primarily due to mismanagement, that they are falling further and further behind with each passing day, and this simple fact is being covered up by the Panama Canal Administration. No one in the Panamanian press is talking about this issue. I'm the only one reporting on it. After the publication of that article I was approached by others with additional inside information who basically validated and confirmed what I have been hearing from other sources. They gave me more numbers and more data which was different and independent of what I have already received, but the new data and numbers confirmed, supported, and validated what I have already been told.

    Bottom Line Up Front: The project to expand the Panama Canal is currently, today, right now - as of 6 December 2011 - already about one year behind schedule. Recently there was a big meeting convened of all of the primary project managers from all of the private companies involved in the project where they discussed these problems and concerns in an effort to rectify some of the key issues that are holding back progress. At this point they are supposed to have completed 28% of the total project, while in fact only 17% has been done. At this rate there is "no way in hell" the project will be ready for the target date of 15 August 2014 - the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the original Panama Canal. I asked one expert with access to insider information when the project will actually be completed and delivered, based on the rate of work being done and the actual progress being made on the ground, and he said - "I don't know, no one really does, but the one thing everyone is in agreement on is that it won't be ready by the projected date of 15 August 2014, that's for sure." As described in the earlier article, with each passing day they are falling further and further behind.

    Not Being Reported - Anywhere Else: Yup. At this point I'm the lone voice in the wilderness. The public relations office of the Panama Canal Authority has not issued a single statement or report indicating that the work on the project is falling behind schedule. The Panamanian news media and press has not written or published a single article to that effect. The Panama Canal Authority issues a statement, and they repeat it, that's it. When foreign or international reporters come down here to cover the expansion of the Panama Canal, they are given access, shown the work that is being done (which is, in fact, considerable) and the progress that has been made. But so far no one is talking about the ever-slipping completion date, delays, missed targets, and incorrect projections. I suspect the administration of Ricardo Martinelli might be hoping to sit on it as long as possible, to just let the project advance and to make as much headway as possible - but the next general election will be held in May 2014. Sooner or later they are going to have to deal with this slipping of the projected completion date and delays, but so far - silence.

    Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Panama Canal Expansion - "A Train Wreck Waiting To Happen"

    Canal ExpansionBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I was contacted today by some insiders who have intimate knowledge of the work being done to expand the Panama Canal. These people have requested I protect their identities over fear of being fired if it is discovered they were talking to the press. They tell me the company that won the largest part of the contract to build the expansion project - the consortium "Grupo Unidos Por El Canal (GUPC) - seriously underbid the project in order to win the contract. The largest Panamanian partner in that consortium - CUSA - has long standing and direct ties to Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority. Considering Alemán's ties to CUSA it was really no surprise when GUPC - comprised of the Spanish company Sacyr Vallehermoso, the Italian company Impregilo, the Belgian company Jan De Nul, and the Panamanian company Urban Construction, Inc. (CUSA) - won the contract. However now there are reports of very serious delays in construction, cost overruns, and idle equipment.

    Construction Delays: I have to be very careful in how I present these numbers, because my sources are concerned that someone might be able to figure out where I got them. Suffice it to say I was provided with some very specific numbers and data regarding construction schedules and projects, and the amount of work that was supposed to have been done by now, compared to what has actually been done and the speed of the advance of the work that has actually occurred. In order to mask the specifics I'm going to melt it down as a percentage - only 28% of the work was completed in recent months, compared to what was scheduled and projected. One of my sources told me "at this rate, for every day that goes by, they are falling another half day behind schedule." It's pretty simple. They have a programmed rate of work that needs to get done in order to deliver the project on time. However in fact they are only progressing at a rate of 28% compared to that schedule. So, while some work is in fact getting completed, it's not happening fast enough to meet their own projected time lines and schedules.

    Cost Overruns and Idle Equipment: They also described how in some cases there is equipment sitting around and not being used because of mismanagement - there's no money to pay for the fuel. They described the management of the project as a "total goat rope, complete cluster fuck..." pulling no punches with regards to how things are actually going, on the ground, at the work site. My sources described how in many cases managers simply decided to dive into an element of the work without providing the proper education or training to the workers who actually have to go there to do it. and in many cases things are being done poorly (best case) or not to specifications (worst case). There is a potential for some kind of catastrophic failure at some point down the line. And it all comes back to one thing - mismanagement.

    Corruption? I mentioned the current scandal involving the three Italian companies subsidiaries of Finmeccanica, compared against the fact Alemán has ties to CUSA and one of the companies in the GUPC consortium - Impregilo - is also an Italian company, the question was obvious. Is there any chance the same sorts of kickbacks occurred on this contract. They said "when this train wreck occurs - and it's going to happen, no doubt - it will make the Finmeccanica scandal look like kids playing in a sandbox."

    Not The First Rumblings: Awhile ago I was contacted by another source who made very similar allegations. However I didn't really know that guy, nor did I have any way of validating what he was telling me. And in addition it was also much earlier in the process. Now the work is being done and it's possible to watch and see and count and know - they are falling way (way) behind projected schedules. And no one in the Panamanian media is talking about his. No body. In this case my sources are much better, trusted, and confirmed. They have no political reasons whatsoever to try to toss a brick under the wheels or anything like that. They have a genuine concerns over the way the project is being executed, the manner in which the work is being done in terms of quality, and they know without a doubt there is no way in hell the project will be completed without major cost overruns and delays. It's just a matter of time before this ticking time bomb goes off. And remember, you heard about it here first, when it all eventually goes down the crapper. The "big dig" comes to Panama. Wunderful.

    Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Martinelli Opens Valve To Flood New Section of Panama Canal

    Canal Expansion#Panama - Amid applause, in an act of protocol act by ships of the ACP, the water from Gatun Lake begins to flood the new phase of inter-oceanic canal, which will be used in the future by Post Panamax ships. At about 9:30 am on Wednesday, October 18, president Ricardo Martinelli opened the valve that will allow for the slow flooding of the first part of the dry excavation work done as part of the construction of the third set of locks, one of the major projects of the Panama Canal expansion. Martinelli said during the ceremony that the project to expand the Panama Canal, together with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, will provide many benefits to the country. He added he would propose to the National Assembly the creation of a sovereign fund created from the tolls paid by ships passing the Panama Canal, to be used to benefit the people and improve their quality of life.

    Progress of The Expansion Program: The project to expand the Panama Canal is 33% completed, and expected to be ready by 2014, the year the waterway will be celebrating 100 years of operation. This part of the project, whose cost of design, contracting and administration, was $36.6 million dollars, included the excavation of 8.2 million cubic meters of material, cleaning 190 acres of former shooting ranges, and the leveling of Paradise Hill from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level. During the nearly three years of implementation, this project was completed in the expected time and cost and in compliance with stringent environmental, safety, hygiene and quality requirements, according to information from the ACP. To date three of the four phases of dry excavation have been completed, of the 6.1 km long channel to be used by the Post Panamax vessels once the expansion program is completed. (Estrella)

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    Third Phase of Dry Excavation Completed on Pacific Side

    Canal Expansion #Panama - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) reported on Tuesday, October 11, the culmination of the third phase of dry excavation of the Pacific access channel, as part of the expansion program of the waterway. This channel will join the third set of locks to the Gaillard Cut and Gatun Lake, according to the plan. This project had a cost of design, contracting, and administration of $36.6 million dollars. It included the excavation of 8.2 million cubic meters of material, the cleaning of 190 hectares of old military firing ranges, and the leveling of Paradise Hill, from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level, the ACP said in a statement. To date the ACP has completed three of the four phases of dry excavation of 6.1 kilometer long channel, that will be used by post-Panamax vessels once the Panama Canal Expansion program is completed. (Prensa)
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    Steel from Petersburg to go to Panama Canal

    Canal Expansion(AP) PETERSBURG, Va. — A Petersburg steel mill is playing a role in major upgrades to the Panama Canal. Steel sheet piling produced by Gerdau Ameristeel's mills in Petersburg and Midlothian, Texas, is being used in the expansion of the one of the world's most vital shipping paths. The $5.25 billion project will double the capacity of the canal, allowing more ships and larger ships to traverse it. "It is one of those projects that doesn't come along too often, to be able to participate in the expansion of such a notable feature on the globe," said David Maedgen, manager of piling sales at Gerdau Ameristeel. "There is so much international traffic that goes through that canal." The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that the Petersburg mill produced 1,200 tons of sheet piling the company manufactured for the Panama Canal expansion. Steel sheet piling is a manufactured construction product with connections that interlock to form a continuous wall. The materials will be used for the excavation of the canal's Pacific access channel and the construction of the Borinquen Dam, a key part of the expansion. The process of moving the steel from the Virginia and Texas facilities to the site in Panama involved 161 rail cars, four oceangoing vessels and 880 truckloads. The Petersburg mill has 415 employees and the capacity to produce 1 million tons of steel per year.

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