The Panama Canal

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The Panama Canal had its origins in the 15th century when the Spanish government planned to build a canal. However, it was not until 1876 that the French began but did not complete the building. After payment terms with Panama were completed, the United States assumed responsibility for its construction in 1903. The canal's construction was completed in 1913.

The Panama Canal's Construction Difficulties

Several issues arose during the construction of the Panama Canal. The first challenge is bad engineering and architectural planning and design. The infrastructure challenge entailed drilling across the continental divide. Poor planning and designing were quite complicated due to the construction of the largest gate that could ever be swung (Petroski and Henry 43). The other problem facing the construction of the canal were diseases especially yellow Coast fever and malaria due to the stagnated water pools at the beach. Solving illness and other environmental issues were quite an enormous proportion. The other problem that resulted in the delayed construction of the canal is bad management. The administration lacked some administrative skills which led to significant challenges during the building of the canal such as financial problems. The final problem that faced the construction process of the channel were obsolete equipment that resulted in a dangerous work output and the lack of appropriate technology.

De Lesseps concept:

De Lesseps concept was to build the Panama Canal basing on the sea level. The present technology during that period proved inefficient due to the vast amount of rocks that had to be excavated. The elevations were also high showing the difficulties of cutting through because they did not have the necessary technology at that time. The entire procedure resulted in a lot of financial struggle to his company making him face challenges raising the capital (Keller and Ulrich 123). De Lesseps could gradually lose support from various investors and later on lost the political support from the government. The government then withdrew its funding to his project.

Reasons as to why the United States succeeded whereas the French failed:

The United States government cited that the main problems affecting the project were poor sanitation, engineering design, and work organization (Petroski and Henry 78). They at first came up with a dike that enabled them to control flood flows and large lock lift vessels that made excavation of the rocks easier. While doing this, they tagged along with them mosquito hunters that worked to eliminate the mosquitoes infesting the area thus reducing the risk of the laborers falling ill leading to a reduction in the workforce. The workload was also divided into several divisions each handling a particular task. This is the main reasons that saw the overwhelming success of the completion of the Panama Canal which is up to date one of the greatest scientific inventions.

Works Cited

Keller, Ulrich. The building of the Panama Canal in historic photographs. Courier Corporation, 2013.
Petroski, Henry. "Engineering: The Panama Canal." American Scientist 81.1 (1993): 13-18.

May 04, 2022
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Government Life

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