Germany’s Federal Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle, accompanied by the German ambassador to Panama, Michael Grau, has visited the subway construction site in Panama City where the first of two 9.7m diameter Herrenknecht EPBMs has begun tunnelling on the city’s first subway line. During a walk around the site and an inspection of the TBM inside the tunnel, the Foreign Minister was briefed about the overall project and the machine technology.
A joint venture between Odebrecht S.A. (Brazil) and FCC Construccion S.A (Spain) will excavate a total of 6.4km of tunnel using the two machines. In an official ceremony on January 23, 2012, Panama’s president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal launched the first machine – christened “Marta”. From the launch shaft “Albrook”, Mata will tunnel towards the future station “Iglesia del Carmen” where it will meet the second machine which will start boring further north from the station “12 de Octubre”.
On-site machine supervision is being handled by the Herrenknecht AG subsidiary, set up in Panama City in 2011. From here it is planned the subsidiary will also support other projects in Latin America, for example sewage projects in Panama City and Colombia.
In 2011, orders for TBMs, equipment and services worth around €120M were received from Latin America alone, including the world’s largest sewage project “Túnel Emisor Oriente” in Mexico City (3 EPB shields for 30km of tunnels) and the use of a large-diameter machine for construction of the metro in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a Herrenknecht machine is due to bore a tunnel for subway line 4 from 2013, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the construction of a 14km long railway tunnel is planned.