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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 1:33am
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Hong Kong-based company unveils route of Nicaragua canal to rival Panama’s

Mega-canal to rival the Panama waterway will run 278km across Central American nation and cost US$40b, HK-based firm behind it reveals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 7:53am

HKND, the Hong Kong-based company run by Chinese billionaire investor Wang Jing and the Nicaraguan government, has unveiled the route of a proposed US$40 billion inter-ocean waterway to compete with the Panama Canal.

Construction of the canal, the world's largest infrastructure project, is set to begin in December and take five years, Dong Junsong, HKND's chief engineer, said at a press conference in the country's capital, Managua.

Dong said that after studying six possible routes, they decided on one that starts on the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the River Brito, heads south through the city of Rivas and crosses Lake Nicaragua.

From Lake Nicaragua, it goes by the Tule and Punta Gordas rivers until it reaches the southern Caribbean by Bluefields Bay.

The route near the Costa Rican border, chosen by the company and the government, is 278km long, with 105km of that in Lake Nicaragua. If realised, the canal will be up to 30 metres deep and up to 520 metres wide.

Wang told students when he visited the Managua University of Engineering on Monday: "This project is going to be the biggest built in the history of humanity.

"It will be an enormous help to the Nicaraguan people and for the world in general, because world trade will require it. We are sure of this."

But environmental experts warn that construction could cause profound ecological damage by damming rivers, splitting ecosystems and moving tonnes of earth.

The company predicted that 5,100 ships would use the canal per year, each taking 30 hours to transit between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

HKND said it could have saved 3 per cent in costs had a northern route been chosen, but the southern route "minimised the social and environmental impact", according to presentation slides.

While the canal has the support of President Daniel Ortega and most Nicaraguans, legal experts say the deal violates the country's national sovereignty.

Local communities have challenged the canal in Nicaragua's Supreme Court.

Others say the project is not economically feasible. Opposition liberal deputy Eliseo Nunez called the announcement "a propaganda game, a media show to continue generating false hopes of future prosperity among Nicaraguans".

Local media such as the Confidencial newspaper have pointed to the lack of progress made by Xinwei Telecom Technology, another company controlled by Wang, on developing a mobile phone network since it was awarded the contract in 2012.

HKND said its investments could transform Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in Latin America after Haiti, into one of the region's richest nations.

The company promised to employ more than 50,000 people during the five years of construction of the canal.

Once built, the canal and side projects would bring more than 200,000 jobs to the nation of six million people.

Secondary construction includes two deep water ports, an international airport in the city of Rivas, four tourism resorts and an entirely new city that should become home to 130,000 residents at the Pacific end of the canal.

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This article is now closed to comments

zvichadashote
I hope it's not the MTR building this.
VicSexton
please keep going with this plan, the light relief is very welcome these days
impala
Five years to build a 278km canal in Nicaragua. Hahahaha. That is hilarious.

Couple of 'minor' details here. 40 bn USD is a lot of money. For starters, it is 4 times the entire GDP of Nicaragua. So apart from the rather important question of where this money is going to come from, are the builders suggesting they will basically double the country's GDP for the coming 5 years, every single year. Nicaragua 2015 GDP growth: +100%? And all FDI, so currency going through the roof?

And/or are they suggesting that every single person in Nicaragua will drop what they are doing and reallocate their resources to building this ditch? Or that there is so much slack in the economy that it can just allocate resources to build this?

Are they also building a pie in the sky?
15 years, at best. If the money doesn't run out long before that. Or worse.
chaz_hen
So it's not really a Hong Kong company.
 
 
 
 
 

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