Amid the constant turmoil throughout the world Panama has continued to move forward, in spite of a few trials and setbacks.
Even though our drought conditions, causing, among other things, a drop in the water level in Gatun Lake, has caused a restricting of the vessel draft through the canal, there is some good news.
The first ship containing 31,200 tons of copper concentrate extracted from the newly operational Canadian mine First Quantum Minerals at Donoso, Colon transited through on June 21st.
This is the first of twelve transits which will raise $1.5 million in tolls as the copper laden ships head for Asia. As well, this mammoth project has contributed much to Panama in the form of 10,000 Panamanian jobs during construction. In 2018 the company made contributions of $118 million to the Social Services Fund and has allocated in excess of $34 million to Panama’s environmental conservation.
In other positive canal news, the world’s second largest liquid natural gas tanker transited the locks for the first time in June of this year.
A new president, Senor Laurentino Cortizo, was elected on May 6th and his self-proclaimed top priorities are to include stomping out the rampant corruption carried out during the last two presidencies, and prioritizing education. In addition, he has promised the completion of many of the stagnant infrastructure projects which have been stalled for numerous reasons. These include Terminal 2 of the Tocumen Airport where twenty additional gates will be added, allowing our international airport in Panama City to handle twenty million passengers per year.
The newly opened Line 2 of the metro system will have an additional extension which will connect it to Terminal 2 at Tocumen.
It is to be hoped that these completions will also include the desperately needed Children’s Hospital as well as other medical facilities which were started but never completed.
On a humanitarian note, Panama is also moving forward. The Minister of Health recently announced that a team of doctors and nurses, whose goal is to care for migrants camped in the Darien who are waiting to continue their journey to the US, have set out. Numbering in the thousands, these people are in a desperate state. At least twenty-five deaths have been recorded along with numerous jungle disappearances. Many of these people are children and pregnant mothers who are frantic to reach safety in North America.
The compassionate health professionals will treat the migrants’ health issues “in an effective, timely, dignified, and humane manner.”
Panamanians continue to progress rapidly with the issues of recycling and environmental preservation. One small example is the banning of plastic garbage and grocery bags in our supermarkets. Given the fact that each and every year approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced, this is a pressing problem and Panama has jumped on the prevention bandwagon.
Moving on to yet another area of improvement, the Consumer Protection Authority recently resolved 821 consumer complaints for a total of $11.3 million. These complaints were resolved in a satisfactory manner. According to the Authority administrator all cases brought forth by consumers that violate their rights get timely service. Some such include defective merchandise, breach of service, breach of warranty contracts, and undue collection.
In conclusion, Panama is determined to “soldier on”, making improvements and continuing with positive progress. This country is determined to move forward, never looking back..