In the News from Panama

China Group Will Build Canal Bridge

By Jeff Barton 

A consortium of Chinese construction companies has won the $1.42 billion contract to build the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal.

The consortium, formed by China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), is expected to begin work on the much-anticipated bridge project later this year. It is expected to take three years to build.

The new 6.5-km (4-mile) bridge will change the traffic patterns to the west side of the Canal, including six lanes of traffic and a two-way extension of the Panama Metro. Not only will it relieve congestion on the existing bridges, the metro connection will make it possible to travel to the west without a car, as Panama City develops as a modern urban center.

The award to two Chinese companies is also worthy of note, emphasizing the fast-growing role of China in Panama’s economy. China construction companies have been involved in Panama for several years, but this is one more sign of the expansion of ties since last year’s blockbuster announcement of formal diplomatic ties between Panama and China.

The China construction companies were originally awarded the contract, but the deal was held up by challenges from other bidders, Reuters reports. The formal award of the contract clears the path for work to begin on the exciting new project.