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Issue #591

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2014 Media Kit

Panama votes ‘Si’ to Panama Canal expansion

By: | at 07:00 PM | Breakbulk & Projects  

New lane will double canal capacity, improve service for world trade, spur maritime and economic growth In Panama

Panama Canal Authority humbled by vote and responsibility ahead Panamanians voted “Si” in a national referendum on Panama Canal expansion. The voting began on a quiet Sunday morning (Oct. 22) at 7:00 am. The enthusiasm and energy was apparent as each voter played their part in this historic event that determined the direction and future of the Canal and Panama.

By law, expansion, or the “third set of locks project,” must be put to a vote in a popular referendum. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) presented its formal proposal to the Panamanian government in April. In the end, 78% voted for expansion.

“Today, Panamanians made history. We are honored by their trust and humbled by the responsibility in front of us,” said Dr. Ricaurte Vasquez Morales, chairman of the ACP’s board of directors and concurrent minister for Canal affairs. “We spent years studying, researching and preparing and we are ready. This project will be done efficiently and transparently. With this vote, the Canal will be able to grow with demand, improve service, spur economic growth in Panama and maintain the Canal’s competitive advantage,” Vasquez concluded.

After 92-years of serving world commerce, the Canal will have a major expansion. This expansion will accommodate surging demand for the Canal’s routes and services, particularly the rapid growth in traffic from Asia, through the Canal, to the United States and back—known as the “All-Water Route.”

Expansion will build a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, which will double capacity and allow more traffic and wider ships. The Panama Canal is nearing maximum capacity and needs to grow with demand. The result of comprehensive analyses and studies by the ACP, expansion is estimated to cost $5.25 billion and will be paid by Canal customers through a system of graduated toll increases. An expanded Canal would benefit the people of Panama and world trade, and would help maximize Panama’s strategic location to become the great maritime hub of the Americas.

“We are proud and energized by the confidence in us that Panamanians showed today. The project will benefit the people of Panama, the shipping/maritime industry and world trade. Panama’s geographic location is its destiny—we aim to be at the center of global trade and become a great maritime hub,” said Alberto Aleman Zubieta, ACP administrator/CEO. “Expansion will be a principles-driven project—we are committed to transparency, efficiency and environmental sustainability. This will guide our vision and direction.”

The ACP will provide regular updates on expansion and the contracting process, and will continue its environmental conservation efforts along the Canal Watershed to protect this precious water resource for the city of Panama and the Canal.

The ACP has successfully managed and operated the Canal since the US handover in 1999. Canal operations have broken several records and have set the bar high for efficiency, safety and reliability, while bringing more revenue to the country. “We are up to the task to take on Canal expansion, to add more capacity and to ensure reliable service years to come,” said Aleman Zubieta.

The project will not interfere with or disrupt current Canal traffic.

Expansion will build a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks. Environmentally sound water-saving basins will be built next to the new locks, reusing 60% of the water in each transit. This technology eliminates the need for constructing dams, flooding or displacing communities along the Canal’s Watershed. The ACP is committed to sustainable development and adhering to environmental management best practices.

An expanded Canal will benefit the people of Panama and world trade. The expansion will help maximize Panama’s strategic geographic location by helping it become an international maritime hub at t