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The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has commissioned a mathematical model study to determine whether the new Panama Canal locks will be safe to operate.

In a statement, the ITF said: “Recent tests raised serious concerns about the condition of the structure, with several cracks being detected in the new locks, even though the structure should be designed to withstand earthquakes. This has created further concerns over the real date the locks will be fully operational, not to mention the low level of Gatun Lake, which temporarily reduced the canal’s operative draught, even before the new locks are filled.”

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has recently criticised the project’s construction contractor Grupo Uniods por el Canal (GUPC) for not adequately explaining why there have been leaks in the locks. The Authority is waiting for the contractor to issue a report before deciding whether to adjust its guidance on the project’s completion date.

The structure is not the ITF’s only concern as the new locks will require changes to working operations. Ivan de la Gaudia, general secretary of Panama’s tugboats masters and mates union, said that he has been seeking engagement with the ACP on a draft of new procedures for the new locks. However, he said the ACP has constantly denied him proper engagement.

A Brazil-based company called Fundacao Homem de Mar (FHM) will carry out the study.

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