Chief Editor of SeaNews, Mrs. Fulya Tekin Istikbal inteviewed with Mr. Johnny Wong, Project Manager of the Panama Canal Project during IMPA Congress in Panama.
SeaNews: Dear Mr. Wong; how did you become the Project Manager of The Panama Canal Expansion Project?
Johnny Wong: I have worked in all phases of the canal expansion studies, master plan, referendum, tender, and now project manager of the pacific locks.
SeaNews: How much increase of traffic is expected after the Panama Canal Expansion?
Johnny Wong: The Canal Expansion Program will double the capacity of the Panama Canal.
SeaNews: ..and you invested usd 2.3 billion to the project.
Johnny Wong: US$3.2B for the third set of locks contract and overall $5.25B budget for the panama canal expansion program.
Panama Canal Expansion Project
SeaNews: In how much time do you expect the Canal to pay this back?
Johnny Wong: It depends on future traffic but estimates show payback in about same time it took to build that is 8 years
SeaNews: According to your experience so far what was the main challenge in the expansion process.?
Johnny Wong: Each phase of the project has its challenges and it evolves has project progresses the key is to anticipate them and plan accordingly.
SeaNews: What were the environmental concerns when you started the project? What did you do to protect the environment?
Johnny Wong: The Panama Canal Authority made thorough studies for the possible environmental impacts of the expansion project and took the appropriate measures to mitigate and comply with all national and international standards on this important issue.
SeaNews: You had so many recognitions and awards as the best project, what makes this project unique and “the best”?
Johnny Wong: Just as the original Panama Canal which was built a 100 years ago as an engineering marvel for that time The Panama Canal Expansion will be the largest and most complex NAVIGATION LOCKS project in the world.
Many awards also given for the transparency and good ethics for the Panama Canal Authority.
SeaNews: How is the project going on?
Johnny Wong: Project is now 74% advanced and expected to finish by end of 2015
SeaNews: Have you heard about Canal Istanbul project? In Istanbul Turkish government plans to build a canal to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara on the European Part of the country which is called the Thrace for ship transportation. However there are many environmental concerns of the people. What would you say according to your experiences?
Johnny Wong: No I have not heard about the project, will look it up in the internet, I cannot comment on it as I am not familiar.
SeaNews: How did you find SeaNews Turkey Magazine?
Johnny Wong: I was approached by your managazine in a navigation congress held in Panama, I saw your magazine and find it very well laid out and informative.
SeaNews: Mr. Wong thank you very much to allocate time for us in your busy schedule here.