Sill reinforcements in the new locks of the Panama Canal are complete according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), meaning that it still expects the expansion to be inaugurated by June 2016.
The work was required due to cracks in the sill of the Cocoli locks which were revealed during testing in August 2015, causing leaks.
Once the locks are filled, the sills will undergo a “rigorous testing process”, noted a statement by the ACP.
In December 2015, ACP CEO Jorge Quijano stated that locks reinforcements were due to be completed in mid-January of this year.
The filling of the Pacific-facing Cocoli Locks has begun and the filling of the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks began on Friday February 5, 2016.
Less than 4% of the Panama Canal Expansion Program now remains to be completed.
At the announcement of the completion of locks reinforcements, Quijano reiterated the ACP’s commitment to meeting the “highest standards”, stating: “Every day, we move closer to completion”.
The project was initially set to be finished by the end of 2014, but the date delayed to the second quarter of this year due to a dispute between the administrator and the building consortium over costs.
According to Reuters the plan was originally set at US$5.25bn, but the builders successfully argued for an extra US$3.2bn, of which the government has paid US$250m so far.