Contractor claims Panama Canal expansion will be completed on time

Contractor claims Panama Canal expansion will be completed on time
Leaks in the locks have hindered the expansion of the Panama Canal

Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPC), the contractor responsible for the Panama Canal’s third set of locks has said the project completion date remains April 2016 despite the localised seepage in August 2015.

GUPC, which is responsible for the design and construction of the third set of locks where the leaks were found, verbally indicated that the planned deadline will stay the same according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

However, the ACP is still waiting for the contractor’s formal confirmation in the form of a comprehensive report which should also include the root cause of the filtrations.

In a recent letter, GUPC said that the localised seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area which was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing.

In addition to reinforcing the sill presenting the leaks, the contractor stated that it will reinforce the first and second sills in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks, as a preventative measure.

The seepage, which appeared in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the canal’s expanded Pacific locks, was found in August during the locks’ testing programme, which began in June for a 90 day period.

Photographic evidence, which showed water filtering through the concrete across the width of the chamber near the top of the sill, suggested several layers of concrete had not properly bonded together.

The canal authority said in a statement: “GUPC’s contract with the ACP clearly states that the group is responsible for all corrections that may be required.

“The contractor has an obligation to ensure the long-term performance on all aspects of the construction of the locks and to complete the Expansion Project following the quality standards established in the contract.”