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Panama Canal Administrator Briefs AISA on the “State Of The Canal”

Date: 25-JUN-2003

Operational Efficiencies, Modernization Program and Increased Safety Make Canal More Reliable than Ever

LOS ANGELES, California - June 25, 2003 - In a speech delivered to influential business leaders, the Administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, briefed members of the American Institute for Shippers' Associations (AISA) on the state of the Panama Canal and the importance of Panama as a logistics and transportation center. Alemán highlighted the Canal's increasing importance to global trade - particularly cargo coming from Asia - and impressive record of creating operational efficiencies, executing the Canal's vast modernization program and improving Canal safety.

Of late, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has shifted its model by operating the Canal as a business and has made tremendous progress in shortening transit time and reducing accidents. For example, Canal Waters Time (CWT), the time it takes vessels to transit the Canal, has dropped by several hours recently and the Canal set a safety record of 172 days without an accident.

Alemán Zubieta also discussed in the June 23rd speech the Canal's modernization program that he has been spearheading. The program, which focuses on improving infrastructure to generate operational efficiencies, includes:

  • The widening of the Gaillard Cut, from 152 meters to 192 meters;
  • The additions and improvements to the locomotive and tug fleets;
  • The replacement of the locomotive tow tracks;
  • The conversion of locks machinery to a hydraulic system;
  • The purchase of a new locks control system; and
  • The purchase of a new 360 degree simulator.

The modernization program provides many benefits to shippers, such as increased Canal capacity by 20 percent; improved navigational safety; improved reliability of physical plant and equipment; decreased frequency of required maintenance and reduced Canal Waters Time.

Alemán Zubieta stressed that as Panama's role grows in importance to global trade, the Panama Canal's vision remains consistent: to be a world leader in services to the maritime industry; to be a cornerstone of global transportation system and to be a model of excellence, integrity and transparency.

About the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating, and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the website: www.pancanal.com.

The Authority's responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the people of Panama.

For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway - a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal and the protection and conservation of its watershed. In the past four years, the ACP has made significant strides - shifting to a market-oriented business model focused on customer service and reliability, making major capital investments for new and modern equipment and machinery, increasing safety and operational efficiency for customers, decreasing the time it takes ships to travel through the Canal and widening and deepening sections of the waterway. An important transportation link, the Canal services more than 140 different transportation routes from every corner of the globe. It is where major trading routes of the world connect and intersect providing safe, reliable and secure passage for all vessels.


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