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Colombian alternative to the Panama Canal seeks funding

Florida-based Zergratran, a sustainability driven transportation infrastructure company, is seeking to raise $75m in funding as its initial step to build an alternative to the Panama Canal for shipping containers.

Puerto Internacional Las Americas (PILA) is planned to be an underground tunnel that would use Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation) technology to transfer containers in less than 30 minutes between fully automated ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of northern Colombia. This 80-mile “green shipping corridor” would help place the shipping sector on a credible pathway to achieve zero emissions, said the company in a press release. The Maglev and linear induction propulsion-based technology would be entirely electric and non-polluting.

Zergratran’s plan addresses the need for additional marine trade routes and the choke point around the Panama Canal. The technology, already used for high-speed trains, is expected to enable faster, cheaper and more efficient transport.

Zergratran would own both ports and license its crane technology and port designs out to the industry. After pre-feasibility, it would request proposals from potential construction and operations partners, then select the best options. However, after 25 years of operations, it is required to turn over ownership of the ports and tunnel to the government.

Byron Bennett, CEO of Zergratran, discussing the initiative on LinkedIn, maintained the Panama Canal was suffering from delays.

“Container ships typically have to wait about 10-12 days to cross. We are addressing the need for additional capacity and the 13,000+ teu ships that can’t cross the canal,” Bennett claimed.

Panama has had to contend with suitors to its transoceanic capabilities before. Canal pretenders have come and gone repeatedly, most notably a Chinese bid eight years ago to develop a 284 km waterway across Nicaragua, which never materialised.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.


  1. This is pure Dan Dare. Mag-lev and linear motors are not widely used in the rail sector as the report implies. There is a real need for a reality check on this..

    Will we ever hear any more on this fantasy?

    1. “Will we ever hear any more on this fantasy?” Crypto attracted a lot of money and people are still investing of fossil fuels so why not? But more like Elon and Star Trek than DD and Mekonta.

  2. They need to review their cost estimate as it is very low, the estimated cost is less than my 40 kilometers expressway project in Africa before the pandemic. The electromechanical equipment meant alone will cost more than that.

  3. The $75million might be a down payment to the local “farmers” and former revolutionaries who call Darien state home….

  4. Adding to all preceeding comments, ports are supposed to revert to the government, which accentuates the risk of political instability

  5. When it comes to effective costs, I’d like to think it’s not infrastructure as such, and whether it 40, 60 or 80 miles. It is operating the buffer at both ends, a container yard not to be safely and effectively to be determined in size.
    It will either be too large, not fully utilized and thus operating too costly – or, with all connections going well, it will be too large and not utilized sufficiently, yet to be maintained.

  6. I wish them luck but $75 million? But you must be joking, that amount is way too low😂

    I’m from Panama (half American & half Panamanian) & was around for the animosity towards Americans till they returned the full control of the Canal in December 31, 1999.

    (Panama Canal)
    Ballpark Estimate: 
    $639 Million (1914 dollars)
    about the equivalent ~ $14.3 Billion (2007 dollars)

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