There are infrastructure, public and private projects underway all over the country, not just in Panama City. Apparently, plenty of businesses, individuals and governments agree with Standard and Poor’s assessment that investing in Panamais a very good idea. (Read more about it here.) There are so many endeavors in the works, some big and flashy, others small scale and low-key, that they are too numerous to list. Here’s a sample of current initiatives.
Of course, everyone thinks first of the “mother of all projects,” the expansion of the Panama Canal. This is an undertaking of enormous proportions, bringing experts and laborers from all over the world. Two major transportation improvements will changePanama City in a big way- the Metro subway system and the Metro Bus system. If you have ever experienced rush hour traffic in the City, you know how desperately these improvements are needed, and they are both in progress, on schedule.
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Heading west from the City, you can’t miss the new Westland Mall, near Chorrera. This pastel, tutti-frutti painted shopping center on the Pan American Highwayis now open for business, while highway repairs and improvements in the area are ongoing. Further along is Coronado, a favorite beachside playground for foreigners and vacationing Panamanians. Three ultra modern, high-end shopping centers have been built in as many years, and high rise beachfront resorts and residences keep popping up along the coastline.
The provincial capitals are seeing their share of investment as well. In Santiago, capital of Veraguas province, the long-standing Hotel Gran David is being completely rebuilt and enlarged, and on the edge of town a huge new resort style hotel and convention center, Hotel Mykonos, is going up. Still further west, about an hour from the Costa Rican border, Chiriqui province’s capital city of David is growing by leaps and bounds. New shopping centers, new residential communities, and new highways have appeared or are under construction.
The Enrique Malek Airport is being upgraded from domestic to international service, with a longer runway and brand new passenger terminal set to open this spring. Even the sleepy fishing town of Pedregal, just south of David, is slated to receive funds for expanded docks, fuel service and a new fish market. There’s also an international airport being build in Rio Hato which is close to the beach resorts. These two airports will make it quicker and easier to get to other parts of Panama without going through Panama City.
Obviously, transportation is a major focus of the government’s efforts, including highway improvements between Panama City and Colon, as well as Divisa to Los Santos. On the east side of the City, Tocumen International Airport has been enlarged to add twelve more gates, which will accommodate fifty percent more passenger traffic.
With all of this development some problems, disagreement and growing pains are inevitable. While the road projects are underway there are constant traffic snarls and delays. Retrofitting the city subway system will involve years of disruption, noise and dirt. Panama’s water supply and delivery are unreliable in many parts of the country and must be addressed and upgraded to meet the needs of its growing population. Likewise, the power supply will need to be expanded to meet the demand created by all of these new facilities and services. Nevertheless,Panama is demonstrating that it has the where-with-all to tackle massive, complex projects, when the will power and funding come together. With substantial international investment, Panama’s boom is going full tilt.
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