Panama City, June 27 (IANS) The expanded Panama Canal is expected to bring in over $2 billion in annual revenue by 2021, official reports showed.
The canal’s larger lane, made to accommodate gargantuan Neopanamax container cargo ships, was inaugurated on Sunday, witnessed by thousands of Panamanians and representatives from the China Ocean Shipping Company(COSCO), whose ship made history by becoming the first to sail through the expanded waterway, Xinhua news agency reported.
At the ceremony, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela presented COSCO with an award commemorating the historic event, and received in return a model of the Chinese vessel.
The Chinese cargo ship, renamed Cosco Shipping Panama in honour of the event, is the first of some 160 vessels that have booked their passage through the canal, the state-run Panama News Agency reported on Sunday citing the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) as saying.
The canal’s expansion work, which began in 2006, was delayed by the 2008 financial crisis for some two years. Its total cost reached at least $5.5 billion, the canal authority said, believing the investment will be recouped.
The canal will have more precise mid-term projections in another quarter, once the routes of Neopanamax ships through the canal and services are normalized, ACP’s financial chief Francisco Miguez said.