Expansion creates 1,200 jobs so far

Written by Miami Herald Panama Edition

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Slightly more than a thousand people have been employed directly in the expansion of the Panama Canal since research on the project began in 2006.

Dani Kuzniecky, ministro de Asuntos del Canal and president of the board of directors of the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP), revealed the employment figures during an appearance before the Asamblea Nacional's Comisión de Asuntos del Canal. He explained that most of the employment was generated in technical areas.

According to the ACP's initial projections, the canal expansion would directly employ around 7,000 people and 40,000 more indirectly between 2007 and 2014, when the massive undertaking is expected to be finished.

No figures are available for the number of people currently employed indirectly by the project. Neither is the nationality of the workers known.

To date, two of the five contracts for excavation work on the Pacific side of the Canal have been signed. One of those is for the Cerro Paraíso, near the Pedro Miguel locks.

Historical data maintained by the ACP reveals that between 1904 and 1913, a total of 56,307 people worked on the construction of the Canal. Around 9,000 people are employed by Canal operations and functions today.

With respect to how the increase in oil prices will impact the cost of the expansion, Kuzniecky said that the first three contracts already awarded will not be affected. "We´ll see what happens with the lock design and construction contract and with the third contract for dry excavation."