The gigantic dimensions of these works —which amaze everyone— have been one of the challenges to be addressed by the 40 engineers who are working under the leadership of Juan Wong, Project Manager of the Panama Canal Authority, The widening of the Panama Canal is being carried out as a response to increases demand of world trade, which will cross the Canal. Each year, more than 13,000 ships cross through the Canal, and currently its operation is approaching maximum capacity.
The costs of the widening have been appraised at $5,250 million. This program entails the excavation of access channels at the entrances of the Atlantic and Pacific, and a channel to connect the Pacific locks and the Centenario Bridge. The program also entails the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels in Gatun Lake and the deepening of Culebra Cut. These efforts are supported by the decision made by the Panamanian people in the referendum of 2005, in which 79 percent of voters agreed for the widening project. “With great satisfaction, we see that the Panama Canal Authority (Spanish, ACP) engineers and construction companies from Spain, Belgium, Italy and Panama are accomplishing the proposal we established in the referendum. The works are being accomplished in the stipulated time and below the budgeted money.”
Wong, 56, was born in Panama, and his four grandparents arrived from China in the early Twentieth Century. He communicated to us that he has worked all his life in preparing to address this challenge. “During the 10 years that I worked in the maintenance of the Gatun Lock, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores helped me gain experience. Furthermore, the development of the construction industry in Panama called for thousands of workers who are now involved in these joint efforts.” How Panama is managing the widening of the Canal is news that has shocked the world. The widening progress has sent a message to the international community that the Panama Canal will remain a safe crossing and a key element in the development of the civilization of the future.