Monday, September 27, 2010

Channels Expanding On The Panama Canal

By Tyler Ramos

The Panama Canal is a ship canal which was built in order to join the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Naturally its construction had a significant and positive impact on maritime trade, which was the primary reason behind its construction. Now there is a new project being proposed by the Panama Canal Authority which would expand traffic capacity of the Panama Canal.

The project goes by the name of the Third Set of Locks Project. This name is related to one of its goals, which is to construct lock complexes at both the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the canal. These lock systems are aimed at resolving the water preservation issues which have come up in the past with the canal's continued use. The Panama Canal Authority also aims to not only construct additional access channels to the canal but widen those that already exist. These channels will all also had their depth increased when the project has finished.

The work of expanding the canal is classified as a mega project. This means its construction and completion could deeply impact both nearby communities as well as the environment. Not only that, but it is also expected to cost more than one billion US dollars. A great deal of public attention has been drawn to the project as a result of its scope.

The project has begun as of September 2007 and could be finished within the year 2015. There are and have been many voices in favor of its commencement. This a result of the many potential benefits that the canal expansion could offer. For one it is expected to pay for itself given time as well as provide a significant amount of return on investment for not only its investors but Panama as well.

Along with its profitability, the canal expansion project is expected to reduce poverty within Panama. This will be a result of the need for labor of all kinds being necessary in order to complete the project. Some have claimed that the reduction will be as high as 30%. Of course it is also believed that improving the channels and traffic capacity of the canal will bring in higher revenues from tolls.

The improved cargo capacity of the canal could also mean an increase in profits for those involved in maritime trade. This profit margin could very well affect the country again as well as more and larger cargo ships move through its waters. As mentioned before, however, this image of a parade of cargo ships has also spurred environmental concerns.

The Panama Canal Authority has performed studies regarding the environmental impact of its project and claims that no significant damage will be done environmentally. The area in which the work will be done is already owned by the organization and no major community upheaval is necessary for its work to be done. It also states that the lock systems being installed are intended to mitigate the environmental impacts of the increase in usage of the canal.

Again, it is projected that the canal expansion will be finished in 2015. It is the hope of many that this expansion's completion will mark a time of renewed prosperity in the country of Panama. It will certainly be seen in time whether or not this happens, and many will be watching closely in the meantime.

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