Originally scheduled for October 2014, the inauguration of the recently expanded Panama Canal has been postponed to June 26, as announced on Wednesday by Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Panama Canal Authority.
The channel, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific, has undergone a complete restructuring to allow the crossing of larger cargo ships. The $5.2 billion facelift was plagued by a series of interruptions and disputes, which resulted in the postponement of the opening date due to repairs, strikes and contractual disputes between the Panama Canal Authority and the consortium in charge of the works.
The project provides for larger locks with mechanical gates with the aim of reducing congestion and accommodate large boats called “<em>Post-Panamax</em>”.
These vessels cannot use the Panama Canal because they are larger in size, with up to three football pitches, and carry about 45 percent of the world’s cargo. The so-called “<em>Panamax</em>” instead, indicate the type of container ships that can use the Channel for their measures.