Panama to open expanded canal in June

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Panama City, March 24 (IANS) Panama will officially inaugurate its newly expanded canal on June 26, the country’s canal authority announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made during the inauguration of a state-of-the-art scale model of the canal for training purposes, which, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), will “provide additional hands-on experience to pilots and tugboat captains to operate in the expanded Panama Canal”, Xinhua reported.

“The scale model training facility will allow us to continue providing world-class service to the global maritime industry, while guaranteeing safe and efficient transits through the soon-to-be inaugurated expanded canal,” ACP CEO Jorge L. Quijano said.

“The dream of expansion will become a reality when we inaugurate the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the canal and Panama,” he said.

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The 35.3-acre training facility features two lakes connected by a channel and includes docking bays, replicas of the new and existing locks, gates and chambers, all at a 1:25 scale, as well as scale model tugboats, ships and bulk carriers.

The enlargement work “is currently 97 percent complete,” according to the canal authority.

The massive, multi-billion-dollar project was initially slated to be concluded in October 2014, but has been repeatedly delayed due to construction and labor problems as well as legal issues.

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