Legal challenge over Corozal port project

Roberto Roy supports Panama Canal Authority operations Roberto Roy supports Panama Canal Authority operations Credit: Panama Canal

In Panama, the government minster overseeing the Panama Canal, Roberto Roy, has publicly supported an earlier measure approved by the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which effectively allows it to undertake logistics and port operations, and not simply manage the waterway.

However, the move, which was implemented in October 2014, is now being legally challenged on the basis that it modifies 1997 legislation (Acuerdo 269) governing the complementary activities around the canal.

ACP's change in strategy was predicated on it then being allowed to issue a competitive tender for construction and operation of a new container terminal, at Corozal, on Panama's Pacific coast.

ACP administrator Jorge Quijano accused the lawyer bringing the legal challenge of covertly working on behalf of Panama Ports Company (PPC), the HPH subsidiary that operates the Balboa and Cristóbal container terminals. PPC director Aítor Ibarreche denies any involvement with the legal challenge.

PPC had earlier put forward the Corozal project, seeking a direct award without the need of a tender, although this was subsequently overruled by the ACP.

The government minister argues that it should be the ACP and not the National Ports Authority that oversees development of Corozal, since the port would be located entirely within canal property.

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