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.