La Prensa reports that the GUPC consortium submitted an interim report on the leaking locks on September 25
GUPC says both sets of locks are badly designed, suggests cement and more rebar
by Eric Jackson
July 9, 2009 cable to Washington (via WikiLeaks)
Ilya Espino de Marotta, quoted in La Prensa, September 30, 2015
The Panama Canal Authority administration, board of directors and advisory board are notorious men’s clubs, with a few exceptions. So, what to do when on a Friday some bad news and dubious suggested remedies come in from the troubled GUPC consortium? Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano didn’t have anything to say about it — the following Monday he was busy receiving an award from the Real Estate Brokers Association (ACOBIR) for excellence in running a public infrastructure project. Minister of Canal Affairs Roberto Roy also held his tongue — the following Tuesday he took off for Washington to speak to the American Chamber of Commerce. They left it to the sole female near the top of the canal administration, Ilya Espino de Marotta, to break the news softly through the most sympathetic to the ACP of all Panamanian media (because of lots of business, family and political ties between their respective managements), La Prensa.
The news does look bad, and it may be a lot worse than GUPC and the ACP let on. GUPC calls it a design problem with both sets of locks, a problem with not enough rebar. Widely published photos of core samples suggest defective, improperly poured concrete. So will a retrofit with some 18-guage rebar and some sealant make for a construction job that will last the specified 100 years? Or will it not? And if it won’t, will the current ACP management just accept it anyway in order to avoid being too far behind deadline, and leave it for a future set of execs when things start to crumble? Or if it won’t, will the ACP insist that the defective work be torn out and redone? The canal expansion was originally scheduled to be done in August of 2014, and after several delays the open for traffic date has been moved back to April of 2016, but if parts or all of both new sets of locks have to be torn out and redone it will mean another major delay and probably bankrupt one or more of the companies in the GUPC consortium.