The future of the expansion work on the Panama Canal was put into question on Wednesday over cost disputes between the construction company and the canal’s authority.
Negotiations between the Spanish based construction company Sacyr and the Panama Canal Authority over who should foot the bill for the $1.6 billion additional, unforeseen costs unraveled, leaving construction and 10,000 jobs in limbo. The project, originally scheduled to be completed in June of 2015, has already cost an estimated $5.2 billion and is in jeopardy of being set back several years due to cost conflicts.
While Manuel Manrique, the president of Sacyr, has denied that there has been a complete halt in construction, he has acknowledged possible delays associated with the controversy. “Without an immediate solution, we face years of disputes in national and international tribunals” he said. Jorge Quijano, the Canal Administrator, has also spoken with other companies, though he is willing to continue talks with Sacry. Many doubt that the Canal construction would be handed over to a new company given that it is already 70 percent complete.
First inaugurated in 1914, the Canal celebrates its one-hundreth anniversary this year. The widening of the Canal, in the works since 2009, would allow larger ships to pass through the waterway, carrying up to 12,000 containers—over twice the currently allowed 5,000 containers.