In terms of total tonnage, the container segment continues to lead with 82.1M PC/UMS tonnes in the six months through March 2020
The Panama Canal has seen its tonnage increase by 4.4%, or 258.4M Panama Canal tonnes (PC/UMS) during the first half (H1) of the 2020 fiscal year (FY2020) – but the authority said it is ‘closely’ monitoring the global impact of Covid-19.
The 258.4M PC/UMS increase was registered from October 2019 to March 2020 (the first half of the 2020 fiscal year). Comparatively, the increase is larger than that of intermodal transport (where goods are shipped using more than one mode of transit), with tonnes intermodal for H1 FY2020 registering 247.4M PC/UMS.
Transits of the Panama Canal were also up, registering 7,528 transits during the period, versus a projected 7,029 transits.
In terms of total tonnage, the container segment continues to lead other sectors using the canal with 82.1M PC/UMS tonnes during H1 FY2020, followed by bulk carriers at 41.8M PC/UMS tonnes and chemical tankers at 39.9M PC/UMS tonnes.
Continuity of supply chains
“Despite the challenges facing the industry today, our numbers demonstrate world trade is still moving and the Panama Canal is still playing its part to help ensure the continuity of global supply chains,” said Panama Canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “While we face uncertainty in the weeks ahead, we are committed, now more than ever, to ensuring our route remains open and reliable for the communities around the world that depend on us for essential goods.”
The Panama Canal said it is also closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of the pandemic to have a holistic picture of the situation, while making sure the most up-to-date data is used to inform the Canal’s decision-making. This includes ongoing scenario planning, and closely monitoring various factors that drive global commerce: the US/China trade relationship, implementing IMO 2020 guidelines, the oil price, implementing water conservation measures and draft adjustments, and using alternative routes such as the Suez Canal, Cape of Good Hope and intermodal.
To safeguard the Panama Canal’s sustained transit operations, the waterway began adopting a series of safety procedures across its operations in January, following the guidelines of the Ministry of Health of Panama, which have since escalated across its workforce. Recent changes include reducing the Panama Canal’s on-site staff to those essential to transit operations, and strict compliance with the guidance set forth by the Panamanian health authorities for all vessel transits, among other efforts.
To protect the health and safety of the Canal’s workforce and customer’s crews, all Canal personnel, including pilots, boarding officers, and linehandlers who may need to board transiting vessels will be transported in small groups to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. All vessels arriving in Panama Canal waters are also required to report their last ports of call, and any changes in their crews within two weeks prior to their arrival to any port with a Covid-19 spread alert.
The Canal said it will continue to operate normally and with the personnel needed to sustain the waterway’s transit operations.