The head of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has claimed that the opening of the expanded canal will be ready no later than June 2016.
The ACP’s CEO Jorge Quijano said that the GUPC consortium, which is carrying out the expansion works, will begin navigation tests in April 2016.
In a statement, the ACP said that after these navigation tests, a date will be set for the expansion’s inauguration.
Although it had previously insisted the inauguration would be in April 2016, the ACP’s statement only said that it expects the inauguration to be in the second quarter of 2016, no later than June, and the commercial opening date to be soon after the inauguration.
The delays have been caused, in part, by cracks in the sill of the Cocoli locks which were revealed during testing in August 2015, causing leaks.
However, the GUPC has blamed the delays on the ACP allegedly not paying them on time. In a statement, it said: “As it has been from the beginning of the project, ACP continues to delay any payment awarded under the contract, limiting the progress of the project.”
In an interview with the EFE news agency, GUPC’s director Giussepe Quarta said that the expansion could be completed by April 2016 but, if the alleged issues with payment were not resolved, completion could be delayed by six months.
At the time of publication, the ACP had not replied to a request for comment on these allegations.