Extending the network:
infrastructure gets boost
TRANSPORT IS AT THE TOP OF THE GOVERNMENT'S AGENDA AS A TARGET FOR DEVELOPMENT. IF PANAMA IS TO BECOME A REGIONAL TRADE HUB, ROAD NETWORKS MUST BE EXTENDED AND IMPROVED-AND PROJECTS ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY
VÍCTOR N. JULIAO GELONCH
Minister of Public Works
the construction of the Panama Canal in the early years of the last century,
the country has learned just how important transport is to its economy and to
its standing in the world. With increased globalization and regional trade agreements,
Panamas role as a world transport hub will continue to expand. The countrys
public and private sectors are preparing for such a future.
At the same time, the administration of President Mireya Moscoso has ambitious plans to improve transport for Panamanian citizens, especially in Panama City itself where traffic congestion has long been a concern of the government.
"We are planning our two most important projects for the capital: a second bridge over the Canal and a light rail network," explains Public Works Minister Víctor N. Juliao Gelonch. "Two lines, the blue line and the red line will cross the city and of the two, the 13-kilometer-long blue line, which has been budgeted at $200 million, will carry the most passengers," he continues.
HEAVY INVESTMENTS are being made to improve infrastructure in Panama.
other project, the second bridge over the Panama Canal, will reduce the existing
overload of traffic which now uses the Bridge of the Americas by 50% and help
lower transport costs, ease congestion and boost productivity of businesses,"
The canal itself is also undergoing major improvements, according to Alberto Alemán Zubieta, Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority that operates the strategic waterway.
"The current modernization program will be wrapped up by the end of 2004," he says. "We recently began deepening the navigable section of Lake Gatun and that will ensure there is more water in the canal for its future operation.
the past several years we've been carrying out a study for a series of capacity-enhancing
projects which includes plans for damming new water sources, building hydroelectric
plants, new locks and widening and deepening some of the channels."
Complementing the canal's maritime activity is the Panama Canal Railway Company, which has been operating freight and passenger service for the past two years between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), was created in 1998 and merged four other maritime bodies and agencies under one roof. For anything that has to do with shipping or maritime services in Panama, AMP will surely be involved.
made the construction of the Panama Canal Railway possible," AMP Administrator
Jerry Salazar says proudly. "And that was a major success in the transportation
of cargo from the Balboa port to the ports on the Atlantic sector, and also
in the transportation of passengers from the many cruise lines that stop in
Along with land and maritime transport, air transport is also key to Panama's development and Copa Airlines is the leading air carrier in the country. In 1998, it signed an agreement with Continental Airlines as a shareholder and has since doubled in size.
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