A visionary Ambition - Pietro Salini

Beyond the rapids of the Chagres River, beyond the green waters of Gatun Lake, beyond the tides of the two oceans that see each other without ever touching, there lives a dream — cradled for hundreds of years — of cutting a Continent in two, and thus offering the world the most amazing of shortcuts.

It is a dream fueled by the vision of those adventurers who were the first, starting from the sixteenth century, to recognize a path submerged in the impenetrable vegetation of the jungle. That desire for discovery, together with the ambition to open a breach that might really change the maritime trade routes, was the trigger that resulted in the involvement of the topnotch engineering companies and the most efficient organizational machines in the world in the most ambitious of all challenges: digging a canal in the isthmus of Panama.

One hundred years since the opening of that very first Canal, Salini Impregilo — together with other important players in the sector — was asked to double the enterprise by digging a new canal, a larger, more modern one with less of an impact on the environment as compared with the previous one. Here we have another epic enterprise to which over 11,000 men, most of whom from Panama, made their contribution, as well as a great achievement for the development of Central America which — thanks to its new sea highway — is once again the best international trade route.

The visionary ambition that allowed the early explorers to look beyond the obstacles of nature was the same one that for seven years fueled the work in a huge building site, divided between the shore of the Atlantic and that of the Pacific. A great testing ground for world engineering, because the uniqueness of the project has called for the use of techniques never attempted before, and innovative and sustainable solutions to safeguard key resources like freshwater. From the first laborers' struggle against malaria in the early twentieth century, all the way down to the challenge of automation and the technologies, the ambition of going beyond the limits of nature and human skill is renewed in one of the most important engineering works in the world, overcoming the boundaries of time and pursuing the desire to never stop experimenting.

From the Pacific to the Atlantic, from Asia to Europe, today a new road has been paved. Like an explorer who inaugurates a path never trodden before, the Canal is a route for big ships, otherwise forced to go around Cape Horn. Innovation, ingeniousness, technical skill, industrial know-how, but above all the desire to create unique works around the world and to look beyond them: these are the elements that have made all this possible. And it is indeed because we want to "look beyond" that we have decided to publish a new book, after The Journey - The New Panama Canal, to tell the story of the new Canal, but also of the whole economic and social context that has been triggered thanks to it. With the Canal looming in the background this book looks at Panama as a country rich in biodiversity and marvelous landscapes and views, which we hope our new journey can help to valorize further.

 

Pietro Salini
Chief Executive Officer of Salini Impregilo