Panama – Shipping companies are opening up their pocketbooks in desperate attempts to get their cargo through the Panama Canal in a timely manner, as the canal faces an unprecedented drought, causing its lowest water levels since the mid-1900s.
The result has been a severe reduction in the canal's transit capacity and a line that's now dozens of ships long waiting to get through.
Nearly 80 ships aiming to pass through the canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are instead dealing with significant delays and losses for businesses, affecting the trade of energy, consumer goods and food.
It takes about 8 to 10 hours to transit the 50-mile-long canal, compared to several weeks to travel around South America's Cape Horn. But now ships are waiting about 1-2 weeks in line, depending on which way they're headed.
Some companies have decided they can't afford the wait, and will now pay exorbitant amounts to bypass the queue, creating competition among vessels.
Source: Fox Weather