Crack Could Delay Panama Canal Expansion, Spokesman Says

A crack seen in the “step”, or sill, of lockhead 3 (LH3), dividing the middle chamber from the lower chamber of the new Cocoli Lock complex on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.
A crack seen in the “step”, or sill, of lockhead 3 (LH3), dividing the middle chamber from the lower chamber of the new Cocoli Lock complex on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.

ReutersPANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The expansion of the Panama canal could face a new delay due to cracks that emerged a few months ago in one of the locks, a spokesman for the waterway’s authority said on Thursday.

The consortium leading the construction project – led by Italy’s Salini Impregilo and Spain’s Sacyr – expects to finish repairing the cracks by mid-January, but it has not given a new date for completing the work, the Panama Canal Authority said.

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The consortium is trying “to minimize the impact on the final handover, planned for April next year,” the canal authority said in a statement.

The Panama Canal’s current expansion plan was originally set at $5.25 billion but the costs rose and the administrator became locked in a dispute with building consortium Grupo Unidos Por el Canal (GUPC), which built the third set of locks.

An administrator for the canal warned in September that delays would be likely after the cracks were first detected in August. (Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Enrique Pretel; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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