For the Panama Canal
Rodolfo Sabonger, deputy president of the Market Research and Analysis Office of the Canal Management, talks about the enhancement project now underway for this major manmade watercourse.
What are the main challenges the Market Research and Analysis Office of the Canal Management has put up with for the enhancement of the Canal?
Like any other project, the most important thing from the word go is to justify the need of the project and its financial liability. Our role has been to provide that kind of analysis. This effort has led us to the conclusion that it was necessary to carry out this project and that the enhancement works can be bankrolled through the Canal’s pricing policy and the services it will have to offer.
This is about adapting the product to the needs of the market. That’s always been our top challenge because the Canal has endured a string of nonstop changes since almost its grand opening.
How are the enhancement works faring and what construction stage are you in right now?
We’ve left the first planning stage behind and we’re right now executing one of the main elements of the entire project which is the dry digging. We’ve also handed in the first dredging contract on the Pacific entrance and the first contract for the purchase of a new dredger for the navigation channels. We expect those proposals to be ready by October for further assessment, so that we’ll be ready to get cracking by the first quarter of 2009.
How does the Panamanian government support the tasks and the efforts your division is carrying out?
We work and collaborate very closely with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as with the Republic’s General Accounting Office because we are the ones that come up with the information and the top indicators for the Canal from an economic standpoint, and that much data is ingrained in the country’s overall economic indicators.
The Panama Canal has witnessed major developments of the country’s social, economic and political life. And it has also heard the stories of some unsung heroes like Rodolfo Sabonger, deputy president of the Market Research and Analysis Office of the Canal Management
What’s the main working strategy that the Market Research and Analysis Office of the Canal Management will have in 2008?
We’re already making plans for 2009. The ongoing year is history now and is under execution. We also have to get the job done in terms of the pricing and toll policy. A couple of years ago we updated and put the current toll policy up to par with international standards until 2009.
We must bear in mind that the Canal is just a small link in the supply chain in which the costs of all the participating elements are articulated with one another, from the fuels and the storage to the costs of maritime, ground and air transportation. Then, as part of that chain, our responsibility is to make sure that the Canal could operate in a profitable way.
Our responsibility is to make sure that the Canal can be operated in a profitable way. The main challenge here is try to make the most of the advantages the Canal has to offer in an effort to make Panama’s the most important logistics platform of the Americas.