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Indian vessels stuck in the Panama Canal
Indian vessels stuck in the Panama Canal
Dr.G.R.Balakrishnan Sep 12 2023 Shipping News

Indian vessels stuck in the Panama Canal

As the Panama Canal will have restrictions on its daily vessel transit for another 10 months amidst a prolonged drought, experts associated with the waterway say this is not good news.

Information reaching the national capital here indicate extending the restrictions would allow the canal some room to preserve water before the next rainy season. This is a peak season because December is approaching and merchandise for Christmas is moving fast.

Water levels in the canal have not recovered enough and limits on daily transit and vessel draft will stay in place for the rest of the year and throughout 2024, the waterway’s authority has said. This is an alarming situation.

Information from cargo houses in Delhi say many Indian consignments are stuck after the authorities imposed restrictions on vessel weights and daily traffic..

Officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairsclaim those in the know—are in touch with the vessels with Indian flags. It was not immediately known what would be the fate of the vessels carrying Indian cargo, and whether the Indian vessels will take detours in a bid to avoid delays.
Ilya Espino, the Deputy Administrator of the canal, was quoted by Reuters as saying there is an increase in the number of arrivals and that it is a matter of serious concern. Panama is about halfway through its rainy season right now. What is worse is that this is one of the wettest countries in the world and the region is having one of its driest seasons on record. And the lack of abundant rainfall is leading to lower water levels and putting a squeeze on the canal, a critical international route.

Experts, however, say the freshwater lakes are not going to decline, though there has not been any significant improvement and it looks like a longer concern. Worse, it could lead to drier conditions across the southern portion of Central America, including Panama. The next crisis point could be the Mississippi River where the rainfall has been below normal for the last one month, some of the variants among the lowest since 1893.