GUPC, Panama Canal Authority Trade Shots Over Possible Construction Delays

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Wednesday December 30, 2015

Panama Canal expansion contractor GUPC has shifted blame for potential delays in the new waterway's opening onto the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), Spanish news service EFE reports.

Giuseppe Quarta, chief executive of GUPC, said that it could deliver the project as planned for April 2016, however this was "impossible" at ACP's current "bureaucratic and payment rhythm."

Quarta suggested that if ACP did not accelerate its pace, the project could be delayed by up to six months.

He further cited an "excessive and inexplicable delay" in ACP procedures and payments in relation to the project.

The latest potential delay in the opening of the widened canal have, so far, been mainly attributed to cracks that developed in the new Cocoli Locks.

Earlier this month a statement by GUPC also said that "ACP continues to delay any payment awarded under the contract", and calling on ACP to "prioritise the solution of the administrative and financial issues."

GUPC said that only if those issues are addressed will it remain possible to have April 2016 as a feasible completion date.

ACP for its part, told IHS Fairplay that it is making payments "in accordance to the contract requirements, paying when GUPC proves the field progress, quality, and documentation that support such funds disbursements."

"The ACP typically pays GUPC before it is contractually obligated – typically 30 days, far sooner than the 56 allowed," the group said.

In October, Ship & Bunker reported that Panama Canal authorities were considering legal action following the discovery of construction deficiencies.