Panama Canal Vessel Backlog Eases

The vessel backlog that’s plagued the Panama Canal since mid-October remains above normal levels, but canal authority officials say wait times are now diminishing since they started taking steps to expedite traffic through the waterway. The number of vessels awaiting transit has been reduced significantly over the past month. On Wednesday there were 10 vessels in transit and 16 vessels at anchor: 12 on the Atlantic and four on the Pacific side. That’s down considerably since the prior two weeks when data showed at least 20 vessels at anchor on either side of the canal. According to canal authority officials, the recent delays are largely the result of an influx of larger-than-average vessels, unseasonably high traffic to the U.S. West Coast and weather conditions related to the El Nino drought. Measures meant to expedite traffic have been cutting down wait times, they said, even if the backlog remains higher than average.