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New Panama Canal locks pass functionality tests

Panama Canal Watch

Work on the Panama Canal expansion moved forward last week, with performance and functionality tests on the third set of locks.

Contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) informed the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) that the locks passed all safety and functionality tests set out in contract provisions. 

The PCA will now review the contractor’s report, another move towards the new lane’s expected opening on 26 June. As of April 30, the expansion was 98% complete, according to the PCA website. 

“The contractor’s progress opens the doors to a new stage where our workforce will continue familiarising themselves with the work and operation of the new locks and complement their training with navigation tests before issuing acceptance of the works,” said canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.

Ships entering the locks from the Atlantic side will rise 26m to meet Lake Gatun’s water level.

Basins positioned along the locks allow water recovery to keep the canal working during low rainfall, according to GUPC’s website. It is hoped this will lead to the new locks using 7% less water than the existing locks. 

The third locks have been a long time coming, with a first attempt originally started in 1940 and abandoned in 1942. 

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