MANAGUA: Major construction on Nicaragua’s $50 billion canal will start late in 2016 — a year behind the schedule first set by Hong Kong Nicaragua Development, the Chinese builders announced.
The company had originally set early 2016 as a target and announced the new dates in a newsletter it published this month.
On November 5, President Daniel Ortega’s government approved the environmental impact study done by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for HKND.
The study, which was under review for five months, found that the project will have serious consequences for the environment but could be positive for the largely impoverished Central American nation, if it is managed well.
HKND received a 50-year concession from Ortega in 2013 to build and run the 280-kilometer (175-mile) canal. The 50-year concession can be renewed once.
The canal had been scheduled for completion in 2019, but HKND did not immediately offer a new completion date estimate.
The canal is expected to displace some 30,000 people, mainly poor farmers and indigenous people. The canal route crosses Lake Nicaragua and runs through rainforest and at least 40 villages. HKND is expected to employ 50,000 people over five years of construction.
The Nicaraguan canal is aiming to allow trans-oceanic transit to cargo ships and oil tankers larger than many that cross the Panama Canal, according to HKND.
The Panama Canal, completed in 1914 to offer a shortcut and safer journey for maritime traffic between the Pacific and Atlantic, is currently undergoing a refit to triple its capacity.