Ilya Espino, deputy director of the Panama Canal Authority, said that if the area where the canal body of water is located does not receive enough rain in the next few months, the ship restrictions on the canal will be extended for one year.
The drought-hit Panama Canal will maintain restrictions on the passage of ships for one year, a measure that has already led to a marine traffic jam as boats line up to enter the crucial waterway linking two oceans.
A drought, made worse by the Pacific warming phenomenon known as El Nino, has also forced canal administrators to restrict the waterway to ships with a draft of 13.4 metres — which refers to how deep they sit in the water. And the number of ships passing through the canal daily has been adjusted from the normal 36 to 38 to no more than 32 ships.
The 50-mile (80-kilometre) byway is mainly used by clients from the United States, China, and Japan, and yesterday, some 130 boats were backed up waiting to enter, compared to around 90 usually in the queue.
The waiting times are usually between three and five days, have gone up to 19 days at times, although they now stand at around 9~11 days.
All this could lead to a new round of tight shipping space and ship delays. This has raises concerns that international logistics costs will increase soon as well.