Pilot slowdown jams Panama Canal traffic - Toronto Star

A work slowdown by pilots who guide ships through the Panama Canal is causing unprecedented delays and creating a costly bottleneck for shipping companies, canal employees and shippers say.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some 250 Panama Canal pilots, who take charge of all vessels while they travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, want a pay raise and formal work contracts, and are protesting by giving only limited help to clear gridlocks in the busy trade route.

With around 5 per cent of global trade passing through Panama, scores of vessels laden with containers are stretching out off the coast of Panama City, waiting to enter the canal.

More on this topic

Pilots' protest holds up shipping in Panama Canal

May 2008

A protest by pilots who guide ships through the Panama Canal is causing unprecedented delays and bottlenecks in the waterway, according to reports from workers and shipping companies.

Some 250 canal pilots are going slow to push for higher wages and formal contracts.
Nearly 5 percent of world trade passes through the canal, but long lines of ships are building up on the coasts of Panama awaiting passage.

Business leaders plead for end to Nicaragua transport strike

May 2008

Business leaders in Nicaragua called on the government to put an end to the 10-day-old strike by truckers and bus drivers.

The strike has already led to shortages that are fueling inflation. With access blocked to Managua and several provincial towns, fuel supplies were running short at power plants and factories were without basic raw materials.

Panama battles to clear canal bottleneck

April 2008

The Panama canal is struggling to control major congestion as transit times nearly double to a record 53 hours, while this week’s backlog averaged 93 vessels. Queues have eased little from their peak in March, when 119 vessels waited as long as eight days to transit the major trade artery.

That is despite a series of measures to address the backlog, which has occured during its busiest time of the year.

Dredging International confirms Panama Canal contract

April 2008

Said the company: "Notification of the contract was given by the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP), and will secure work for the next four years. The upgrading of the Panama Canal will significantly enhance international trade and navigation (post Panamax vessels), and will include construction of two major complexes of maritime locks – the design of which was developed in the past months by Belgian engineering firms."

Dredging International also confirmed that the contract is worth some US$177.5 million and will require the assignment of a great variety of very specialised plant: ocean-going heavy rock cutter suction dredgers, trailing hopper dredgess, large backhoe dredgers, and very advanced self-propelled pontoons for drilling and blasting.

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