Despite the serious inconveniences prompted by the draft restrictions at the Panama Canal, the country’s “dry canal” has considerably alleviated the situation thanks to Panama’s main logistics forte –its narrowness between both coasts—and an excellent network of overland transportation.
In a recent interview with daily newspaper, “La Estrella de Panamá”, Alejandro Kouruklis, Director of Government Affairs and legal advisor of Panama Ports (which manages the Canal’s Pacific-terminus port of Balboa) stated that as of mid-September “approximately 50 additional container-ship dockings have taken place with over 20,000 additional movements (20,000 containers) since the draft restrictions were implemented.”
On his part, Ricaurte Vásquez, the Panama Canal’s Administrator, explained that the draft limits have prompted vessels to multiply the number of containers for overland transport.” The majority of the containers that arrive at the Pacific seaport of Balboa are transported on wheels to the port of Manzanillo, on the Caribbean, where another ship of the same line awaits them to continue the journey.”
The main users of the “dry canal” are shipping agencies of the “Asia via the Pacific” route.
Kouruklis also sought to calm down the anxieties of the international maritime community by giving the Panamanian “dry canal” a vote of confidence. He stated, “The connectivity between the Pacific and the Atlantic ports via the railroad and overland freight companies is efficient, helping the Panama Canal to remain competitive in sporadic situations.”
With historic roots in the Spanish colonial period, Panama´s current “dry canal” comprises a modern, four-lane expressway, the Boyd-Roosevelt Highway (built in 1943), and the railroad service provided by the Panama Canal Railway Company. The excellent conditions of these thoroughfares, combined with the lengthy experience of dozens of local trucking companies, make the transport of containers from coast to coast (80 km) possible in approximately an hour.
Source: An article by Adelita Coriat for “La Estrella de Panama”, published September 18, 2023.