After several years of works to widen the Panama Canal, the important waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will be reopened in May, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced in his address to the nation on Saturday.
The expanded canal was originally due to reopen in 2014, but labour and financial disputes with the construction companies delayed the finishing date several times.
Each year, some 14,000 ships pass through the Panama Canal, representing some 6 per cent of world trade.
Following the widening of the canal, transport ships of the so-called Post-Panamax class with up to 14,000 containers on board will be able to pass through.
The work has cost 5.25 billion dollars.