On December 22 Nicaragua started the construction of Nicaragua Grand Canal, a 172-mile waterway to be constructed by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group), Reuters reports.
The groundbreaking ceremony was described as symbolic, as it involved starting works on a road at the mouth of the Brito River which is needed for heavy machinery to access the site where the Canal’s Pacific coast port will be built.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Managua and blocked the highway connecting the region to the country’s capital, despite a strong response from security forces, described as ”militarised” by community leader Octavio Ortega. The country’s environmentalists gathered in Managua in the evening, asking for the project’s feasibility studies to be released.
Residents along the planned route, as well as a number of the country’s politicians and environmentalists, have opposed the project, stating as the main reasons the Canal’s impact on the country’s freshwater sources, and HKND Group’s apparent lack of experience on projects of this magnitude.
This USD 50 billion project is expected to be completed in five years with the Canal becoming operational by 2020. According to the plans, the Canal will be between 230 metres and 520 metres wide and 27.6 metres deep, which would allow it to handle bigger ships than the Panama Canal.
According to HKDN Group, the Canal project will include 6 sub projects: the Canal (including locks), 2 ports, a free trade zone, holiday resorts, an international airport and several roads. In addition, there will be construction of a power station, cement factory, steel factory and other related facilities.
World Maritime News Staff