Nicaragua approves route for $40 billion canal linking oceans

MANAGUA Tue Jul 8, 2014 9:02am EDT

A ferry boat crosses Cocibolca Lake with the Concepcion Volcano in the background at Ometepe Island May 22, 2012. REUTER/Oswaldo Rivas

A ferry boat crosses Cocibolca Lake with the Concepcion Volcano in the background at Ometepe Island May 22, 2012. REUTER/Oswaldo Rivas

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MANAGUA (Reuters) - A Nicaraguan committee approved a proposed route on Monday for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal.

The committee of government officials, businessmen and academics approved a 172 mile (278 km) route from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean that was proposed by executives from the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group).

The Hong Kong-based HKND group, which is leading the project, is headed by Chinese lawyer Wang Jing, who also heads Chinese company Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group.

The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, and will be between 230 meters and 520 meters (755 feet to 1,706 feet) wide and 27.6 meters (90 feet) deep, said HKND engineer Dong Yunsong.

The proposed route still faces environmental and social impact studies that could recommend some changes to the plan, but those studies should be finished later this year to allow work to begin by December, said committee member Telemaco Talavera.

Opponents of the plan are concerned about the canal's effect on Lake Nicaragua, an important fresh water source for the country, as well as the impact on poor communities.

The plan is to finish the canal in 2019 and begin operations in 2020, Talavera said.

The proposed channel would be more than three times longer than the 48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal, which took the United States a decade to build at the narrowest part of the Central American isthmus. It was completed in 1914.

(Reporting by Ivan Castro; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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Comments (6)
Kahnie wrote:
Seems I remember a stamp that was put on Senator’s desks about 100 years ago or more. The stamp of the country of Nicaragua had a picture of the Lake in question and, let me see, oh yes, there was a volcano with smoke coming out near the lake. Oh well, the Chinese probably don’t connect stamps.

Jul 07, 2014 12:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
borisjimbo wrote:
Lake, fresh water. Oceans, salt water. Prospect for invasive species migrating, pretty good.

Jul 08, 2014 2:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
REnninga wrote:
“…the 48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal, which took the United States a decade to build …”

RESPONSE:
Well, yes, but after France spent 13 years at the cost of 22,000 lives working on the canal before the US took over the project.

Jul 08, 2014 3:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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