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New (4th) Bridge Over the Panama Canal

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Chinese consortium starts building fourth bridge over Panama Canal

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 17:45


A Chinese consortium today was authorized by the Panamanian government to begin the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, a 1,420 million dollar megaproject on a metro line which will pass and will help cut traffic in the capital.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela delivered on Tuesday the order to proceed with the so-called Panama Fourth Bridge Consortium, integrated by China Communications Construction Company LTD and China Harbor Engineering Company LTD.

"These companies have just completed a bridge of more than 55 kilometers between Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai, the longest bridge in the world, so I have full confidence that they will do a first world work," said the president.

The project was tendered in June, but the contract was not signed until November 9 because the Italian-American consortium Astaldi-Daelin filed a claim that ultimately failed.

The infrastructure, which will have an approximate length of 6.5 kilometers and will have a cable-stayed design, will be built north of the Bridge of the Americas, one of the most emblematic of the country, located just at the entrance of the Pacific Ocean.

The bridge will consist of six lanes for vehicles and two exclusive lanes for the third metro line of the capital, which is pending bidding and which will connect the western commuter towns of Arraiján and Chorrera, in the province of Western Panamá, with the city center.

"It will be the fifth most important project in the history of the country," said Varela.

The ceremony comes a day after Varela received Chinese President Xi Jinping on a visit that has been described as "historic", since he is the first head of state of that country to travel to Panama after the establishment of diplomatic relations in June 2017.

"That Panama-China friendship is the best way to celebrate the visit of President Xi, and seeing that a Chinese company trusts Panama, trusts its processes, its legal security and its transparency," added the leader.

Apart from the bridge, Chinese companies have been awarded multi-million dollar contracts, such as a convention center and a cruise terminal.

China already had a significant presence in Panama, as it is the first supplier of the Colon Free Zone (the largest in the continent) and the second user, behind the United States, of the Panama Canal, through which 6 percent of world trade passes.

The new bridge will relieve the congested traffic of the Panamanian capital and, according to government calculations, will benefit 1.7 million people.



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The fishermen who will "disappear" through the fourth bridge of the Panama Canal

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 08:46

Diseño sin título (1)_1.jpg

By Raquel Sánchez and Carlos Lemos

With the sun on the horizon, dozens of fishermen rush to reach La Boca, a place that appears to be hidden on the banks of the Panama Canal, and in which every day is threatened to disappear to make way for progress: the fourth bridge over the interoceanic highway.

Some 30 artisanal fishermen drag their boats and little by little take out the merchandise that was captured in the early morning hours. The baskets with fish and shellfish are thrown in vats that they load in trucks that will take them to the food markets, a marathon day of few hours to achieve the fresh harvest of the sea.

But this life as many know will cease to exist, or that is what they fear, due to the construction of a mega project that will be erected to place a metro line and that will help alleviate traffic in the city. This will be a priority and the pier could close.

La Boca port, located on the Pacific coast of Panama, was previously an area under the surveillance of US troops during its military presence in Panama. Already in 1930 a system of tugboats or ferries was enabled, which moved people from Balboa to Farfán (west).

The infrastructure was abandoned after the inauguration of Puente de Las Américas in 1962, so the dock was adopted by fishermen who made their way to exercise their trade. A time when the idea of a prosperous place for fishing hardly flourished.

Sitting on a bank, watching his tourist boat, Gumercindo Díaz knows that there are no more years to go, but months, he already knew it since 2014, the date on which they carried out studies for the construction of this fourth connection over the sea.

Today that same place will undergo another transformation, the project that will connect the province of Panama West with the center of the city will be raised by a Chinese consortium and the infrastructure will have an approximate length of 6.5 kilometers with a cable-stayed design.

"When the consultations began there was a meeting with the society, not even the residents of the residential area knew that we were settled in the place; since then began the worries that it was going to happen with us," he explains.

He says that after a census was taken among the guild, the authorities informed him that access to the place would probably be difficult, and that the equipment and machinery would be there.

Díaz notes that they proposed to move a few meters from the maritime enclave, but the detail is that they would need a landfill and the facilities to place their work tools.

"I know it is a government project and they are the ones that rule, we do not want to be compensated, but to continue working, we know that if we leave here we will not go back," says Díaz, who is part of the Fishermen's Association of La Boca.

He points out that the other ports such as Coquira in Chepo (east), the Prosecutor in San Felipe and the one in Veracruz (west) are crammed, far away and with little security. The Caribbean is also not an option because it has bad weather or its waters are unstable.

Díaz says that many go out to the ocean every day and go for about eight hours, bringing species such as snapper, croaker, laurel, saw, sea bass and shrimp, the favorites of consumers.

But this about 48 year old and very extroverted man notes that now he is dedicated to tourist fishing, a more friendly option with the environment and more profitable for the economy.

With 20 years facing the sea, he says that although it seems unreal to fish 200 pounds of a fish, it is the same as taking about 10 people to do recreational fishing and capture 20 pounds.

"We know that every day there is less fishing, and more pollution, fish go to clean seas, so our vision is to transform the place into a recreational port," he said.

After the interview, Díaz goes to his boat that almost touches the rocks at low tide to get ready on his next trip that will take some tourists to fish, in what could be one of the last of the hidden dock.

Diseño sin título (2)_2.jpg



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Varela visits 4th Bridge consortium in China

Posted 03/04/2019
With the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal set to begin this year President Juan Carlos Varela on a tour of China intended to boost trade and tourism visited the Chinese consortium that will build the $1.4 billion project.

"For our government it is very important to be sure that one of the largest mega infrastructure projects in the country has the support of world-class companies, with an undeniable record," said Varela as he toured The China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiary China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC),  the consortium that built the longest bridge in the world  the Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macao bridge over the sea.

He was accompanied by Oscar Ramírez, director of the Tocumen International Airport, and as well as the Minister of Canal Affairs, Roberto Roy, who is also director of the Panama Metro, whose third line will cross this bridge..

According to a statement from the Presidency in addition to discussing the challenges of building the bridge in China, they delved into relevant aspects of the project including civil works, environmental conservation programs, processes of mitigation and expectations about the impact on the quality of life of the population.


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$4 billion bridge and road project launched


A toast to the fourth bridge

Posted 03/05/2019

The symbolic first shovel  of earth for the construction of the $1.518 billion fourth bridge across the Panama  Canal was turned  by President Juan Carlos Varela in La Boca, Balboa on Thursday May 2,

It was  the  last  photo op  in a flurry leading up to Sunday when his successor will be chosen  in the country’s election that could see a major shift in the National Assembly if the “No to re-election” campaign bears fruit.

The fourth bridge aims to improve the road connection between the capital and West Panama, which is  used by 130,000 vehicles each day,It will be built by  The China Communications Construction Company and China Harbor Engineering Company  Consortium  which has e already received $67 million for the start of the project.

 The work consists of a cable-stayed bridge with six lanes for vehicles and two lanes for line 3 of the Panama Metro, which will connect Albrook with Ciudad del Futuro, in Arraiján.

Varela said that between both projects the investment will be around $4 billion. "We are laying the foundations for the cities of West Panama to integrate more into the economy of the country," he said.

The bridge and the access viaducts will have a length of 2.1 kilometers. In addition, the work, which is scheduled to take  four and a half,years includes the creation of two interchanges on the east and west sides of the bridge, which will have an extension of 34 kilometers between roads, ramps and viaducts.



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First draft of the Fourth Bridge project on the Panama Canal

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 17:43


In a symbolic act that constitutes the beginning of the construction works of the Fourth Bridge over the Canal, the first stroke of this megaproject design and construction was placed by the authorities and executives of the Panama Cuarto Puente consortium formed by the companies China Communications Construction Company LTD and China Harbor Engineering Company LTD.

The bridge will have an extension of 3,950 meters, contemplating the length of the cable-stayed bridge and its road system, consisting of access viaducts and interchanges.

The first stroke marks the beginning of the construction phase that has five work fronts, which will advance simultaneously, along the alignment of the project. it is estimated according to the execution schedule, that the works finish in a period of 54 months.

The fourth bridge over the Panama Canal has an investment amount of $ 1,420,027,324.73. It is expected to directly benefit the circulation of more than 130 thousand daily vehicles that move, according to estimates between the provinces of Panama and Panama West.

The work currently employs 420 people directly and indirectly.



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Fourth Canal bridge on hold


Posted 14/08/2019

The Fourth Bridge over the Panama Canal will not be built this year say government sources as the money intended for the Chinese construction company will go to pay debts left behind by the previous administration, which had already handed over $67 million and held a first shovel ceremony by then-president Juan Carlos Varela.

Money previously allocated for the construction will be used to pay agricultural producers.

TheNational Assembly  Budget Committee unanimously approved on Wednesday, August 14, the transfer of $39 million to meet payments in favor of rice, milk and corn producers, between others.



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Mass transit and rush hour traffic relief will be on hold in order to make payments to agricultural producers.

The new President's a farmer.

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It appears feeding people has priority over a bridge. No brainer. Good planning for a bridge down the road.

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Bridge project on hold as government funds evaporate


Posted 15/08/2019

The construction of the $1.5 billion fourth bridge over the Panama Canal will go ahead but not this year says The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

The Director of Budget of the Ministry Carlos González reported that the 'formal' financing of the work collapsed, and there have been delays in planning so this year the project will not advance.

During his appearance at the National Assembly Budget Commission. He asked the Budget Commission for a transfer of $39 million in favor of the Ministry of Agricultural Development.

MEF Minister Héctor Alexander said that the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) should develop a schedule for the development of the project.

A MOP statement says that the programming of the fourth bridge over the Canal was not expected to advance in the way originally planned but stressed that it is going to be built.

At the end of  June, the MOP minister, Rafael Sabonge, said they were looking to get an 'interim loan' for the construction of the project and when the bridge is built, give it in concession to the state-owned National Highway Company (ENA).

On May 2, three days after the general elections, then President, Juan Carlos Varela, formally turned the first of the project construction to nr carried out by the Chinese consortium China Communications Construction Compay Ltd. and China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd., for a cost of $1.42 billion.

The Varela government even gave an advance of $ 67 million to begin construction.

Now, the work is suspended while the government of Laurentino Cortizo has moved to 'cool' Panama's relations with China.

The second phase of the beach corridor project will also be delayed, given the lack of funds reports La Estrella.



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Fourth bridge builders cited to clear fog over progress


Posted 18/08/2019

The consortium tasked with building the fourth bridge across the Panama Canal will be called to the National Assembly to help clear the fog surrounding the $1.4 billion project.

Kayra Harding president of the Assembly’s  Public Infrastructure and Channel Affairs Committee of the National Assembly,, confirmed that this week they would be citing the consortium to explain the current situation.

According to Harding, , she will first present the citation proposal to her colleagues in the commission for endorsement. The idea of the citation, she said, is " among other topics,to  explain the start date of the work and the reason for the delays."

On August 14, the National Budget Director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) , Carlos González Miranda, told in the Budget Committee that due to the delays in the construction of the road infrastructure of the bridge the budget item for this work will be used in other state projects. and the MEF asked the Budget Committee to approve a transfer of funds that had been allocated in the general budget.

Later the same day, Public Works Minister Rafael Sabonge said that the work will begin this year and even anticipated that it would be in approximately 30 days.

According to Sabonge, this work presented a low execution rate and the contractor, Consorcio Panamá Cuarto Puente, "is working with the $67 million advance payment that was provided, and  reaffirmed that it will begin to be built this year."



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Design of bridge lagging, but project will advance - Minister


Rafael Sabonge

Posted 19/08/2019

The design of the fourth bridge across the Panama Canal is four months late  but the project will be executed said Rafael Sabonge, Minister of Public Works

He was participating, in the first debate on  Public-Private Partnership in the National Assembly on Monday, August 19.

Salonga said that this year the $213 million that had been allocated to the bridge will not be executed and that is why part of these resources were transferred to the Ministry of Agricultural Development to settle outstanding accounts with producers.

However, the minister reiterated the commitment of the MOP  to the project. "We are strengthening the institutional framework within the Ministry of Public Works to give the correct follow- " he said.

The project has a cost of $1,518 billion and was awarded by the previous administration to the Chinese consortium Panama Cuarto Puente.

The order to proceed was delivered in December 2018 and the ceremonial first shovel was wielded by, former President Juan Carlos Varela in May of this year, just before the presidential elections.



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Fourth bridge consortium facing bribery record probe


FOURTH BRIDGE consortim reps face futher grilling

Posted 23/08/2019

The $1.5 billion contract for the. construction of the fourth bridge across the Panama Canal.will come under the microscope of a National Assembly sub-committee for 15 days starting Monday, August 26 as allegations swirl about the Chinese consortium’s track record of bribery.

The Committee on Public Infrastructure and Canal Affairs of the  National Assembly approved on Friday the creation of the sub-committee commission to investigate the tender, during the consortium's appearance before the commission to answer a questionnaire of 11 questions about the project.

PRD  deputy, Crispiano Adames, who will be one of the members of the sub-committee, made several accusations against the companies, China Communications Construction Company, and China Harbor Engineering Company.

He said that the group has had corruption cases in several countries and was blacklisted by the World Bank for cases of bribes to officials.

Jennifer Croston, a legal advisor to the group of companies, said they should investigate before giving information about it.

Deputy Adames also questioned that the contract was awarded "quickly" in a "slow government", referring to the administration of Juan Carlos Varela (nicknamed the tortoise), and that as part of the project a  $50 million restaurant is included.




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Fourth bridge will  carry 130,000 vehicles daily and Metro Line III


Posted 19/09/2019

The $1.518 billion fourth bridge across the Panama canal will meet its construction deadline says the Chinese consortium handling the project.

The  Panama Fourth Bridge Consortium is made up of China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC)  and said on Wednesday, September 18 that  it will comply with the times stipulated in the work schedule, so that the construction ends in 2023 reports La Prensa

Mario Montemayor, Superintendent of Works in charge of the project, explained at the Capac Expo Habitat Fair that the bridge will allow the passage of at least 130,000 vehicles a day, using a traffic control system that will include automatic incident detection and traffic control cameras.

It will have three lanes in each direction, and two central lines for the monorail of  Metro Line III.



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Fourth bridge $50 million restaurant a non-starter


The construction subcommittee

Posted 08/10/2019

The $50 million dollar restaurant envisaged as part of the $1.5 billion  fourth bridge across the Panama Canal is a non-starter according to  a National Assembly sub-committee  created to "investigate" the tender by which the  Panama Cuarto Puente consortium was awarded the contract for the design and construction of the

On Tuesday, October 8, a report highlighted the possibility that the project price tag could increase.

In the document, which must be presented to the Public Infrastructure and Canal Affairs Committee and then possibly discussed in the legislative plenary, it is indicated additional costs could arise if the company's geotechnical studies determine that more work should be done in the foundations.

The design and construction of the work proposed by the consortium is based on soil surveys previously carried out by the Ministry of Public Works (MOP).

However, in this type of project, the contractor expands the soil studies, which in some cases may result in additional work or less than originally calculated.

This is a complex project, in which if all the ramps, access, and new road are considered, 40 kilometers of construction are added, with 24 bridges.

The two central columns of the bridge will have a separation of 510 meters. In the West Tower, a restaurant was planned between the bridge and the waters of the Canal.

However, at the time of delivering the report, Kayra Harding, who chairs the Committee on Public Infrastructure and Channel Affairs, revealed that the restaurant valued at about $ 50 million "does not go" within the project, in addition to other " adjustments "to be made by the Ministry of Public Works. 

"We are in the stage of design of the work, so at this stage, adjustments are being made," she said.

The construction group, formed by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), currently focuses its work on the first three stages of design and " withs an approximate progress of 70% according to the assigned time periods”.

To date, the consortium has equipment, camps, and field personnel on the East and West side of the project.



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