China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC) were just awarded a contract – as a team -- to build a fourth bridge over the Panama Canal.
Locks at the Panama Canal.
The contract is worth $1.42 billion. The 6.5 kilometer (4 mile) long bridge will include a two-way metro line and six car lanes. The construction will start later this year. It is expected to be complete sometime in late 2021.
The contract decision had been made in June but had to be postponed because alternate bidders challenged the decision to give the contract to CHEC and CCCC.
The award is just another step in what is becoming a much closer working relationship between the governments of Panama and China. The first major step in that partnership happened when Panama broke off ties with Taiwan in 2017 and established them instead with the People’s Republic of China. This bridge is another step in the process.
China and Panama also started free trade talks earlier in July with the ambitious goal of reaching an agreement which could make Panama a major hub for Chinese goods being sold across Latin America. Such an agreement would be a major boost to Panama’s economy, while also establishing a major positioning point for China in Latin America.