The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said on Monday that shipping wait times at the waterway are back to normal after a period of several weeks that saw backlogs pile up, according to Reuters.
Starting in late September and extending well into October, traffic jams had led to wait times of as much as 10 days, way above the norm of 24-26 hours.
Bad weather and a surge in the numbers of large vessels created the delays.
But the ACP – the government agency responsible for the operation and management of the canal – instituted some policies and actions to ease the situation and they were having a clear impact by mid November, with wait times down to four days per ship by 19 November and even more significantly reduced last week.
Among the measures the ACP took were: assigning extra crews to man tugs and locks; postponing non-essential maintenance work; and cancelling draft restrictions.
It was also announced that the repair work on leaking cracks in thecanal’s new third locks will be finished by mid-January.
The multinational consortium responsible for the work, GUPC, confirmed the likely completion time for the repair work but, along with ACP, would not commit to saying that this would enable the $5bn canal expansion project to meet its April deadline. Splash understands the foreign ministry has already sent out invites to many heads of state for the opening with a date in April scheduled.