Vessels using the Panama Canal are experiencing week-long delays, some even as long as 10 days, according to shippers and container carriers.
While delays at the crucial trade artery of a day to a day and a half are common, many carriers are warning shippers that unexplained lengthy waiting times have been impacting global supply chains for the past three weeks. Cosco Container Lines, in a recent note to clients, said some of its boxships were suffering 10-day delays in crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The canal is in the closing stages of a huge expansion project to allow it to accommodate supersized vessels with double the cargo capacities of the present maximum.
But it has encountered crack and leak problems with its new third lock, which cast doubt on its ability to meet the deadline. Despite that, ACP spokesmen and national politicians have insisted the expanded lock function will be ready for its official opening in April 2016.
ACP is holding consortium contractor GUPC (Grupo Unidos por el Canal) responsible for the timely and safe completion of the locks. GUPC is pledged to doing so by reinforcing the problematic Pacific-end Cocoli locks as well as strengthening the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara locks as a precaution.
But both ACP and GUPC have insisted ongoing operations of the canal would not be affected. GUPC comprises Spain’s Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy’s Impregilo, Belgium’s Jan De Nul and Panama’s Constructora Urbana, SA.