Having celebrated its centenary in June The Panama Canal has recently reached another new milestone with the pouring of more than two million cubic metres of concrete in its latest construction project. The pouring mark was passed last week in one of the monoliths that make up the west wall of the middle wall of the latest lock chamber that is being constructed.

This follows the arrival of a second shipment of ‘rolling gates’ last month from Italy that will be incorporated into the new third set of locks. The construction of the two new lock complexes will require a total of 4.3 million cubic metres of concrete so they have almost reached the half way stage. The complete project will feature three chambers, with three water saving basins per chamber, a lateral filling and emptying system, and the aforementioned rolling gates.

It is hoped that the remaining gates will arrive at the site before the end of this year to allow construction to be completed by the end of 2015. This is after a recent dispute was settled which had held up construction. The consortium involved in the building project comes from Panama and Spain, as well as Italy. So at present a large piece of countryside is one massive building site, with what seems like hundreds of people walking round wearing Helly Hanson workwear trousers, and who could blame them, and hard hats and will be for the next few months, but it will be worth it to the country of Panama and world trade.

The canal currently has two lanes, each having its own set of locks. This new expansion will add a third lane once the locks are complete and so allow additional capacity to move vessels from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake and back down again. This will help to maintain the economic viability of the canal as it will allow the new larger cargo ships to be accommodated and it will increase employment opportunities in the region.