Construction is about 65% complete on new locks that will open the way for larger container ships to pass through the canal and reach the U.S. East Coast, Deputy Administrator Manuel Benitez said Jan. 21 at SMC3’s “Jump Start 2014” conference.
Benitez said he expects no changes to the canal authority’s target of completing the project in the second half of 2015.
The canal authority has finances available to continue with the project even if the contractor does not finish the work, he said.
“All of the foundation is completed, so really, from here on, it’s much easier,” Benitez said. “I anticipate no further delay, even if the contractor fails to complete the project.”
The Panama Canal Authority’s dispute with contractors centers on about $1.6 billion in costs beyond the original contract bid of $3.1 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report.
On Dec. 31, builders threatened to suspend work if the canal authority didn’t offer more compensation for those added costs, but the chairman for Spanish firm Sacyr SA, part of the consortium of contractors building the expanded canal, said Jan. 13 that the company would complete the job, Bloomberg reported.