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  • ITVI.USA
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  • OTLT.USA
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  • OTRI.USA
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Varela: Panama Canal expansion expected to be complete by May

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela in a national address urged contractors and the Panama Canal Authority to put aside their legal disputes for the time being in order to keep the project on schedule.

   The expansion of the Panama Canal, which began in 2007 and was originally scheduled for completion in late 2014, is now expected to be finished “around the month of May,” Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said Saturday.
   In a national address opening the 2016 legislative session for Panama’s congress, Varela urged contractors and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to put aside their legal disputes for the time being in order to keep the project on schedule.
   “With respect, I am calling on the contractors for the expansion project to hold dialogue with the Panama Canal Authority, to allow work to be completed, to leave legal disputes in the hands of the competent authorities and to avoid mediatized differences that in no way help the image of the contractors, the Canal Authority and the Republic of Panama,” said Varela.
   The president’s message comes after an adjudication board ruled the ACP should pay Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the construction consortium responsible for the project, $17 million to cover budget overruns and extra labor costs.
   The canal’s widening to accommodate post-Panamax containerships with up to 13,000-TEUs of capacity, was initially expected to cost $5.3 billion, but reports suggest the actual budget for the project has far exceeded that figure.
   Jorge L. Quijano, the chief executive officer and administrator of the ACP, said recently the authority expects to conduct transit trial tests in April and inaugurate the expanded canal in the second quarter of 2016. The official commercial opening of the Panama Canal would follow shortly thereafter, according to Quijano.

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