In compliance with a strict annual maintenance program, the Panama Canal carried out dry chamber works in the West Lane of the Gatun Locks, in the province of Colon, which brought together more than 200 workers from different divisions for nine days.
The major maintenance or overhaul work began on August 30 and ended on September 7. The project included the rehabilitation of Gates 27 and 28; the replacement of the metal seals of both structures and the walls, four rising stem valves and the concrete flaps, and the repair of Gate 40.
“The other gate we are working on is Gate 40, which in a closure we did last October that was to repair the 39-40 swing, we found that gate had severe damage to the base or plate, so we included it in the scope of this project,” Wilfredo Yau, locks division reconditioning engineer in charge of the project, told El Faro.
He added that, in addition to the major works, minor works were carried out on the lateral culverts, among others.
Short-, medium- and long-term planning and execution
Canal maintenance works are carried out with a combination of methods, including tasks executed with internal Canal resources, as well as through external contracting, and with strict planning. This management depends on multiple factors and considering the particularities of the different types of assets and their criticality.
The annual plan also considers the frequency stipulated for each type of equipment and for elements such as structural components, so routine inspections and analysis of the condition of the infrastructure are carried out to define the needs.
Yau explained that 28 years elapsed since the previous complete overhaul work of Gatun Gates 27 and 28, while the other minor tasks in that same lane, were carried out in 2017.
B/.1,263 million to maintenance in the last 3 years.
|Maintenance of infrastructure and facilities
|Maintenance of floating equipment
|Maintenance of locks
|Maintenance of channel
|Maintenance of electrical system
|Maintenance of rolling equipment
|Total in millions of balboas:
In the last three fiscal years, the Panama Canal has allocated the sum of B/.1,263 million to maintenance programs to ensure the continuity and efficiency of its operations.
In the budget for Fiscal Year 2021, B/.350.3 million was allocated for maintenance; in the current 2022 budget, the amount for this item is almost B/.450 million; while in the budget proposal for 2023, B/.465.8 million is contemplated.
Each year, the budget for maintenance programs is higher than the previous one, since it is a key area for the Canal, and has allowed that after 108 years, the interoceanic waterway provides its customers with an uninterrupted, efficient, and safe service. Maintenance includes infrastructures such as the centennial locks (Panamax), and floating equipment, such as the tugboats that support the daily operation of the Canal.
The different vice presidencies and divisions of the Canal execute a strict annual maintenance program that covers infrastructure and facilities, floating equipment, locks, navigation channels, electrical systems, rolling equipment, and erosion and landslide control.
The budget for fiscal year 2023 contemplates about B/.103.3 million for the maintenance of the Panamax and Neopanamax locks.
In addition to these projects, the Vice-Presidency of Infrastructure and Engineering establishes a budget for the maintenance of the floating and land equipment, as well as the navigation channel, for an approximate amount of B/.232 million.
Similarly, in the Panamax Locks, the maintenance plan includes regularly scheduled works at the Gatun, Madden and Miraflores spillways, for which there is a multi-year work program.
Among the projects to be executed during this period, which is about to begin, are the following:
- Dry chamber works at the Gatun and Pedro Miguel Locks.
- Maintenance of sewer valves and vats in the Neopanamax Locks.
- Maintenance of water purification plants.
- Dredging for sediment removal from the Culebra Cut and the Atlantic and Pacific entrances.
- Major maintenance of the Quibián I dredge engines. Fairing of nine tugboats and 11 launches.
- Standardization projects for common areas for personnel: remodeling and adaptation of dressing rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms and waiting areas.
- Erosion control of the east bank of the Agua Clara access.
- Maintenance of approximately 850 hectares of land and green areas, including areas of difficult access.