Updated 08:26 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

Panama Canal Authority Meets With Archbishop To Discuss Expansion

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Panama's archbishop Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa has expressed his support to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) in line with the canal's expansion project.

According to La Estrella, Ulloa has recognized the importance of the Panama Canal in the country and ACP's responsibility in the project.

He claimed that he is confident that this project will be completed "in contractual terms" under ACP's watch.

La Estrella explained the archbishop met with ACP administrator Jorge Luis Quijano to know more about the project, and to clarify issues posed by parishioners.

"We have been clarified many doubts and will now have information that helps us to communicate to communities the good work that the Panama Canal, which is a business of all Panamanians," Ulloa said.

The Panama archbishop also expressed hope that the expansion will be finished based on the set timeline, as per Panama America.

"In all, we are confident that will be delivered during the second half of this year," he mentioned, noting that its opening will be a holiday to celebrate for all Panamanians.

Situated between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Panama Canal provides an easier and faster route for ships who would not want to take the Cape Horn route.

Its official website explained that the expansion, which started in 2007 and costs $5.2 billion, aims to create "a new lane of traffic" along the canal with the construction of new locks, thus doubling its capacity.

The Wall Street Journal said the main purpose is to really enable larger ships to carry more goods through a deeper canal.

Existing locks in the Panama Canal reportedly carried 5,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent unit), but the expansion promises a capacity of 13,000 TEUs, more than double the previous capacity of the canal.

"It will have a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade," added the official website.

The expansion also involved creating an access channel in the Pacific, improving navigational channels through dredging and improving water supply.

There had been delays in the opening of the canal expansion because of some internal conflicts and needed repairs, but Quijano told TVN that they are sticking with the deadlines they have set for this year.

He noted that the flood locks will be carried out this month, while water-saving basins will be tested.

A navigation test should also be expected three months from now. Quijano also noted that by April, they also want to have a lock function in the Atlantic, which is the "most suitable" passage for vessels.

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