Challenges Ahead for Canal

Feb 1, 2002

Users of the Canal have enjoyed a smooth and efficient transition to Panamanian control. But tough investment decisions regarding expansion now loom.

Nothing is more emblematic of Panama than its US-built canal, still going strong 87 years after its opening. Now, under Panamanian control, the security and efficiency of its operation will remain one of the yardsticks by which the country will always be judged. Skepticism has dissipated that the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) could ensure a seamless transition from US control and avoid government interference in canal affairs. Alberto Alemán, the ACP's administrator, says the last two years have shown that canal users have no reason to fear. "I think we have proved to the world that we were ready to manage the canal in an efficient way. And it is not me saying it - it is the users of the canal," says Alemán, who began his stint as canal administrator in 1996, under the US-run Panama Canal Commission. Says Carlos Urriola, president of the Panama Chamber of Shipping,...

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