The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) issued a statement today reaffirming its commitment to successfully complete the expansion program.
Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano stated that, “we would like to reassure our customers that the contract was well drafted and includes guarantees that will allow the completion of the new locks, even if the ACP needs to step in to assume control of the project and deliver it in the shortest possible time.”
The contractor for the new locks, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, has claimed cost overruns and that it needs to renegotiate the terms of its contract. The ACP is insisting that the company honors the contract that was agreed upon.
“We will seek to resolve this conflict in the best possible manner within the legal framework of the contract to ensure that the construction continues and that the Expansion Program is completed,” added the ACP administrator.
ACP also said the Canal continues to function normally and the situation with one contractor relating to one of the projects in the construction program and has no impact on current Canal operations.
According to the ACP, overall, the expansion is 72 percent complete and at this time, and is expected to be open to commercial transits in the second half of 2015.
The ACP stated that the arguments raised by the contractor lack legal basis, are not clear and do not give any reasons for the contractor to suspend the work.
The ACP reiterated that the only channels to process claims are clearly established in the contract. A third party decides two of the three methods established in the contract for the resolution of claims. These contractual clauses were accepted upon signature of the contract.
The ACP stated further that trusts the contractor is able to comply with the terms agreed upon under contract. If needed, the new locks project is at an advanced enough stage that the construction may be completed with the mechanisms and guarantees included in the contract.