The International Transport Workers Federation has employed Brazilian company Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM) to construct a mathematical model to test the manoeuvrability of the new lock of the Panama Canal, according World Maritime News.
This news follow a recent discovery of a crack in one of the new Panama Canal lock gates, however, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has stated the crack will not cause any delays to the opening of the expanded canal in April, 2016.
Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF, said: “The ITF is committed to using all means, including the most advanced mathematical models, in order to ensure that operations are safe for the tugboat crews and for all canal users. Any inadequate operation could have a serious impact on the international maritime trade and also on the seafarers we represent.
“We want to support the Panamanian authorities and the international maritime community to make the new locks a success, both in terms of safety for seafarers and Panama Canal workers, but also in terms of profitability for the Panamanian government, which has made an incredible investment.”
The ACP has previously said that it is glad of the crack as it has allowed repair works to go on before the canal actually opens, repair works currently taking place on the locks are expected to take around one month.
Despite the repair works, Panamanian union workers have expressed concern as to the safety of the locks, even a year after the project’s delivery.
Luis Yau, general secretary of the Engineers’ Union, said: “Even if the locks were ready today, one year after the original scheduled delivery, we would not be ready to operate safely and efficiently. We want the Panama Canal Authority to understand that our lives are at stake if we lack the proper operational procedures.”
For now, the project is to continue with its development and is currently in the electro-mechanical installation phase of the project, which has been underway for the past 2-3 months.