International movers using the Panama Canal can expect restrictions to continue for almost a year, because of prolonged drought conditions in Central America that has lowered water levels.
According to news agency Reuters, the Panama Canal Authority has said it will continue to impose restrictions on daily vessel transit and maximum ship draft until at least June 2024.
The restrictions – which are designed to conserve water before the next rainy season – have caused a backlog of vessels and forced owners to lighten cargoes or use alternative transit routes.
Deputy Administrator for the canal Ilya Espino de Marotta said: ‘We are currently seeing an increase in arrivals. It is peak season as December is approaching, so merchandise for Christmas is moving quickly.’
She recommended vessel owners reserve slots in advance to avoid delays and said container ships will have priority to pass through the waterway.