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$5.2 billion Panama Canal projects opens to the public

27 Jun 2016 | By Sneha Johny
$5.2 billion Panama Canal project opens to public

The 48-mile long Panama Canal expansion project opened to the public, with a Chinese container ship to be the first to move through the expanded canal.

Opening after two years of delays due to strikes and labour disputes, it saw around 30,000 people attend the occasion.

The new lock system for the canal will be able to accommodate three times more cargo than before.

In context: $5.2 billion Panama Canal project opens to public

What is the Panama Canal?

The Panama Canal was built in the early 1900s by the United States, by clearing the landlocked area between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Running for about 48 miles, the canal was constructed to help enable trade and transport through the waterway.

Panama Canal historyThe Panama Canal history

The Panama Canal construction was undertaken by the United States in 1904, and saw its completion in 1914, costing the US about $400 million.

The Panama Canal is touted to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The canal zone remained under the United States up until 1999, when it was handed over to the Panamanian Government.

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What is the Panama lock system?

Lock systemWhat is the Panama lock system?

The Panama Canal lock system is a system wherein it helps elevate the ship by about 85 feet to meet the level of the Panama Canal, and then lower it back again.

One of the greatest engineering works after the US built it in 1914, the canal had two locks.

An expansion project was undertaken recently to widen and increase the canal's capacity.

01 Sep 2007Expansion project undertaken for the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal expansion project began in September 2007, which targeted construction of a third lock for the waterway and doubling the canal's capacity.

The canal's capacity was limited to carrying about 5000 containers, but the expanded one will be able to ferry around 14,000 containers.

The canal controls an approximate 6 percent of the global maritime trade and transport volumes.

Opening new markets for the Panama Canal

The canal authorities hope the expansion of the Panama Canal will enable it to be better placed while competing for market with the Suez Canal in Egypt, and open access for shipping natural gas products along the United States and Asia.

27 Jun 2016$5.2 billion Panama Canal projects opens to the public

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Panama as the logistics center of America

"This new transit route is the tip of the iceberg inmaking Panama once again the logistics center of the Americas," canaladministrator Jorge Luis Quijano said."It represents a significantopportunity for the countries of the region to improve their infrastructure, increase their exports."

26 Jul 2016Chinese ship hits Panama Canal wall

A Chinese tanker collided with the wall of the Panama Canal, sparking concerns that the newly renovated project may not have adequate space for manoeuvring ships.

This is the third accident since the new project opened to the public a month ago.

The other two incidents were minor, with one of them blamed on a steering error by the ship's personnel.