Feature:9-year expansion work of Panama Canal overwhelms constructors, I

After two years’ delay, the expansion work of the Panama Canal is finally completed and its new locks will be inaugurated on June 26.

(Soundbite) Ilya Marotta, Head of Canal Expansion Work
“Well, it was an unforgettable experience, an experience once in a lifetime, an experience where you have experienced all, including uncertainty, joy, worries, challenges, celebration and beyond.”

The 9-year 5.25 billion U.S. dollars expansion features the third set of locks, one on the Pacific coast on the outskirts of Panama City and the other on the northern coast at the city of Colon.

(Soundbite) Ilya Marotta, Head of Canal Expansion Work
“Whatever one can imagine for a project of such nature, especially the human part. We met people from many parts of the world, and we have traveled to see the floodgates and valves built elsewhere.”

The locks are 180 feet wide and 1,400 feet long, designed for New Panamax-class vessel, which can carry 13,000 to 14,000 containers, about 2.5 to 3 times those of current ones.

(Soundbite) Jusepe Quarta, Expansion Work Contractor
“As a contracting company, I would say we have accomplished our mission, despite all the difficulties that have not been met before. Today we can say thanks to all the Panamanians and tell all the Panamanians that we have fulfilled our job.”

With 4 to 5 New Panamaxes through the new locks each day, the canal’s capacity almost gets tripled.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the canal expansion will reduce global maritime shipping costs by 8 billion U.S. dollars a year.

(Soundbite) Ilya Marotta, Head of Canal Expansion Work
“I am fully satisfied. What is more, I feel the greatest satisfaction the day I saw the trial ship entering the new lock. From there we said “This is ready. It is operating. It works.” The system of filling and emptying is excellent, without turbulence.”

The 80-kilometer new waterway linking both oceans will allow 600 million tonnes of goods to pass, twice the current volume.
It will triple the 1 billion U.S. dollars in revenues it gets from shipping fees and save two weeks compared to the Suez Canal of Egypt.

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