In preparation for the completion of the Panama Canal expansion in early 2016, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) allowed an estimated 45,000 people to take a tour of the expansion site and see the mega canal-project up close.
PTI previously reported a May video update of the canal’s expansion, which showed that the project had just entered the next phase of its development.
Global News reported that canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said the objective of opening the canal to the public was so that “people can sense and understand the magnitude of the project.”
The Panama Canal has installed a total of 16 lock gates for the third lock expansion project, four in the Atlantic and another four in the Pacific, which began their installation in December, 2014.
The project will enable 13,000 TEU container ships to pass through the canal’s waterway, up from the previous 5,000 TEU mark to effectively increase the volume of trade travelling through.
It was rumoured recently that the Panama Canal could be re-expanded at a total estimated cost of US$17 billion in a bid to service the world’s largest container ships.
The Panama Canal authority has since denied such rumours, saying that the move would be unfeasible until the current expansion has been properly evaluated.
Despite its recent decision to implement a new toll structure, which came into affect on February 1, 2015, the Panama Canal could be at threat by the Suez Canal, which offers shippers a faster route, although at a higher price.
It is also at threat of losing business to the HKND-led Nicaragua Canal, which commenced construction in December, 2014 at an anticipated cost of $50 billion in spite of concerns over sources of funding.
The Panama Canal expansion project is current 89.4% complete.