Despite President Ricardo Martinelli’s assurances, contractors and employees are fighting against the clock to complete the $1.8 billion project by the February 28 2014 deadline.
Roberto Roy, Secretary of Panama Metro, claimed in August that work was 90% complete, while in November he made assurances that 95% of the system was operational. However, with the deadline rapidly approaching, some sections are still only 55% ready, with officials refusing to set a completion date for one of the 12 stations.
Officials claim that most of the remaining work is mostly focused on the completion of passenger focused technology such as the instillation of elevators, escalators and air conditioning systems at Cinco de Mayo station.
Raul Bravo, Project Engineer of the Panama Metro, explained that stations Cinco de Mayo and Fernández de Córdoba have 92 % of the physical work complete. Santo Tomás and Argentina stations are 80% ready while La Loteria and El Carmen, 55% and 60%, respectively.
The most advanced are the elevated stations of the Andes with 90% complete, followed by San Miguelito, 85% and Pueblo Nuevo 90%. Works at Bravo, 12 de Octubre and Pan de Azúcar are 85% complete.
Work on La Loteria station is the furthest from completion, however, Roberto Roy reported that deadline for this work has not been defined as it was not included in the initial contract.
Eight of the twelve stations have fully operational elevators, escalators and air conditioning systems, though lighting and firefighting equipment is still to be installed.
Roy admitted that some work will remaining outstanding beyond the 28 February contractor deadline, however ensured that “delivery will be substantial”.
He explained that passenger trials will be conducted between March and April from 5am to 10pm and that during this period travel will be free, ahead of President Martinelli’s confirmation of prices. Commercial operations are set to begin between in either May or June 2014.