NINE YEARS of work, with many hiccups and cost overruns on the way ended with a $4 million extravaganza to mark the opening of the multi-billion dollar Panama Canal expansion on Sunday June 26.
The event was witnessed by over 20,000 and described by Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano, as "the greatest work that has been done in a century on our soil".
The Canal Administrator recognized the work of the 40,000 workers who participated in the work, 90% of whom were Panamanians , and made a special mention of the eight who died during the work. A one minute silence was held to honor themduring the opening ceremony.
Finished his speech, Quijano picked her up to a girl and together triggered the lever that would open the floodgates for the Cosco Shipping crossed Panama -the lower house closest to the Atlantic-Ocean to the middle chamber.
President Juan Carlos Varela, accompanied by his Cabinet stressed the historical value of Colon in the Canal route. "This was where it all started. Here began the Chagres route, the Camino de Cruces, then the interoceanic railway, the 1914 Canal and and now the expansion. More than 160 ships have made reservations to follow the first vessel which paid $586,000 toll paid by the ship of the Chinese shipping company.
the first booking of a ship carrying liquefied natural gas has also been finalized, a new segment of vessels that can transit the canal thanks to the enlargement.
The opening ceremony was attended by 62 international delegations. While over 20,000 citizens attended the event to celebrate. Other groups gathered on Avenida Balboa to protest the extravaganza while areas of the country were without water, school were in disrepair, and the health service in tatters.