Concern is mounting over increasing Panama Canal tolls that may prompt carriers to avoid the waterway once the expansion programme to nearly double its capacity is completed in 2015, The Shipping Gazette informs.
A string of toll hikes has signalled the canal authority’s intention to maximise revenue instead of cargo volumes, Frank Harder, president of the Tioga Group, told the annual East Coast Maritime Conference.
Tampa Port director Richard Wainio, a former chief economist and executive at the old Panama Canal Commission, told the Journal of Commerce convention that Panama had done a “great job” operating the canal since taking over from the US, but also warned toll increases could meet resistance.
“They obviously have pushed that curve very significantly, further than we would have recommended,” said Mr Wainio.
He said total fees for a Panamax containership can be “well over US$300,000. If you double and triple the capacity of those ships and you raise tolls at the same time – just do the math. I think they should be very careful,” Mr Waino said.