Rainy Forecast For Panama, Should Help Canal Shipping, But Bogota Bakes And Rations Water.

Photo: MercoPress. Shipping has been delayed at the Panama Canal for months due to a water shortage, but the forecast is for rain soon.
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Shopping restrictions at the  Panama Canal could be approaching an end as weather forecasts indicate that plenty of rain is heading for Panama, which, if correct, means that international canal shipping may soon resume normal volume across the Panama isthmus.

The persistent 11-month drought, made all the more worse by the El Niño weather phenomenon, saw a huge swathe of the global merchant fleet decide to avoid the waterway and select other routes because of  the long queues and high toll fees caused by a shortage of water to operate the locks.

This was made even worse late last year when for the first time in shipping history, the Suez Canal became dangerous territory thanks to the Houthis from Yemen targeting merchant ships in and around the Red Sea in a campaign designed to bring pressure for a solution in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Three weeks ago the ACP, managers of the Canal, added three extra slots per day at its panamax locks, taking the total daily maximum transits to 27, still more than 10 shy of the waterway’s normal maximum, but a sign that the worst was over.

Danish liner giant Maersk gave its own indication of the improving water levels along the canal, announcing the reinstatement of a service that had previously switched to a rail-land transit across the Central American country at the height of the drought crisis.

Restrictions on transits through the Panama Canal, which accounts for 2.5% of global trade, have seen tonnage transits down by a third, according to data from Clarksons Research.

There are currently 46 ships waiting to transit the canal, down from a peak of more than 160 last August.

Latest projections from ACP show projected water depths at Gatun Lake, the vital piece of water in the middle of the canal, will start to climb rapidly towards the end of May as the rainy season kicks in.

Meanwhile, further south about ten million residents of the Colombian capital Bogota are being forced to ration water amid crippling shortages due to a severe drought.

The main reservoir that serves Bogota is down to 17% full, the lowest reservoir levels in decades.

Officials have split the region around the capital into nine zones – each zone taking turns to switch off water services for 24 hours.

Hospitals and schools are exempt. The city’s mayor called the situation dire.

“Let’s not waste a drop of water in Bogota at this time,” Mayor Carlos Fernando Galán said in a press conference to announce the measure.

Sources: MercoPress, BBC.



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