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New (4th) Bridge Over the Panama Canal

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Ministries clash over future of fourth bridge


Posted 29/10/2020

In the face of a pronouncement by Panama’s  Ministry of Finance that the cupboard is bare of funds for the construction of the fourth bridge over the canal The Ministry of Public Works (MOP) reported that the construction project that will ease travel from and to the interior of the country and create thousands of jobs will be executed and set-up.

In  a statement issued on Wednesday, the ministry said that it is waiting “for the Panama Fourth Bridge Consortium to present a financing proposal for the project “that allows the timely development of the work, prior to negotiating the conditions with the Ministry. of Economy and Finance and benefits that can be obtained, based on the best interests of the Panamanian State ”.

According to the MOP, this is due to the fact that the previous  administration, in charge of bidding and awarding the project "did not define the financing structure or the budgetary resources that would allow the Panamanian State to face the annual costs that this important project entails."

“It is important to reiterate to the public that the project is not suspended. Currently, the Contractor continues the execution of the design works of the main bridge structures and its access viaducts corresponding to the design phase in accordance with the Unilateral Modification ordered in October 2019, due to the exclusion of Line 3 of the Panama Metro and the change made to the layout of the original project, to mitigate the effects on the Panama Ports Company concession. Likewise, the designs of the east and west interchanges are being developed ”, indicated the institution.

On Tuesday, October 27, the Minister of Economy, Héctor Alexander, said that the optimal time to start the construction of the fourth bridge would not be 2021. And he announced that they had not included in the budget funds for the project due to the crisis generated by the pandemic.

Work started
Meanwhile, MOP indicated that the contractor has started the work on the additional “Geotechnical Campaign”, as well as the construction of a dam in the Farfán area, the temporary metal structure necessary for the construction of batteries, and the installation of camps in the east and plague areas. Meanwhile, "what is necessary" is being coordinated for the demolition of buildings in the Balboa area that will give way to the relocation of a high voltage line and other public utilities in the sector.

The project was awarded in 2018 for $1.518 billion dollars to the companies China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) and China Communications Construction Company.

Meanwhile, Panama’s Emgineers’ Society said that the suspension of the project would mean the loss of thousands of jobs.



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OPINION: The Fourth Bridge Snafu


Posted 30/10/2020

If something is shown in the execution of the project for the fourth bridge over the Canal, it is that governments - whatever their color - lack a state project. The works they propose or carry out respond to their own political interests and not to satisfy the needs of the community. This particular project was conceived in the past administration and the current one has dismembered it without our clear explanations for doing so. Its execution has been erratic and directed by a minister who, in a very short time in office, already has a wear and tear on himself due to the management of questionable projects. The importance of designing works with strictly technical criteria saves costs, demands, time, and money. However, we witness that there is improvisation, that suspicions are justified, and that transparency in government is a rare word, the meaning of which is unknown to most officials. These megaprojects require planning, as one mistake ends up costing us millions of dollars. Start planning before venturing into such enormous expenses that later - through negligence or inability - end up costing much more. LA PRENSA,Oct.30



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