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.