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Huge traffic jam at the Panama Canal could take at least 10 months to clear up

Drought conditions causing a massive traffic jam in the Panama Canal have been extended for at least 10 months, meaning that perishable cargo will be sorely impacted as ships crawl through the canal at a slow pace.

According to new data shared with Insider by supply chain visibility startup Project44, the wait time for ships that haven't been booked with the canal has increased 280% since June.

It used to take a vessel about two-and-a-half days to pass through the Panama Canal, but now ships are taking an extra week to make it through, averaging a nine-and-a-half day journey.

"Current drought regulations for the Panama Canal have been extended for at least the next 10 months," Jenna Slagle, Senior Data Analyst at Project44, told Insider.

Slagle added that there are already "severe restrictions" on the number of ships that can pass through the canal and the amount of cargo each ship is allowed to carry, resulting in huge wait times to pass through, especially for those ships without proper bookings.

Project44 said that the delays are mostly falling on those ships without booking appointments with the Panama Canal Authority. Shippers familiar with the route who "proactively schedule appointments and maintain robust communication channels with the canal are experiencing significantly fewer disruptions compared to those who infrequently use this route," the organization said.


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