Panama canal expansion row hits deadline day
PANAMA CITY (AFP) - Work was expected to continue Monday on a mega-project to expand the Panama canal - a key waterway for world trade - despite a threat to suspend operations over a bitter financial row.
The Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium, led by Spanish builder Sacyr, had said it might stop work by Monday unless Panama paid for US$1.6 billion (S$2.04 billion) in "unforeseen" costs.
However, the consortium said Sunday in a statement that there was "no reason to make any change tomorrow in the status of the construction," arguing that GUPC could cease work at any time as it deemed necessary.
Ahead of the apparent deadline, canal administrator Jorge Quijano had said that contact with the consortium continued over the weekend but that so far no deal had been struck, despite dialogue and mediation efforts by Spanish and Panamanian authorities.