Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Space Travel News .

A canal across Nicaragua: is this for real?
by Staff Writers
Managua (AFP) Feb 19, 2014

It would be an engineering feat of gargantuan proportions -- a $40 billion Chinese-built canal across Nicaragua to boost the flow of ships between the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Proponents point to jobs galore, a huge rise in GDP and other juicy benefits in a very poor country. But as feasibility studies and other preparations gather pace, Nicaraguans are divided between optimists and those who dismiss the plan as a pipe dream.

And environmentalists say it is a recipe for disaster.

The price tag alone is nearly four times Nicaragua's economic output.

President Daniel Ortega and Wang Jing, chairman of HKND, the Chinese company hired last year to build and operate the waterway for a century, have said work will get under way towards the end of 2014.

That would be just around the time the Panama Canal -- where expansion work has stalled in recent weeks in a dispute over cost overrruns -- turns 100 years old.

For now, much of it is hush-hush. Feasibility studies are being carried out. Local and international experts are flying over Nicaragua to study possible routes for a canal, and on the ground they are measuring topography and doing biodiversity tests.

Proponents say that as an engineering task it would dwarf the Panama Canal and work more to complement it than as a rival route to move goods across the world.

- No joke -

"We do not want to become an international laughingstock and we do not want to become an example of failed Chinese investment," said Wang, who is firmly committed to a project that is raising eyebrows and hopes in equal measure.

Indeed, the official numbers estimate GDP growth of up to nearly 11 percent per year and the creation of almost one million jobs during the construction and initial years of operation.

That has folks drooling in a nation of six million people with a 45 percent poverty rate and a jobless and underemployment rate of 53 percent.

Earlier this month, the National Council of Universities said it was opening up study programs in 50 higher education facilities to prepare skilled labor for the mega-endeavor.

Kamilo Lara, who represents civil society groups on the commission preparing the canal, said the benefits are not just for Nicaraguans but also would also speed up global trade.

But skepticism about the project also goes beyond borders.

Ralph Leszczynski, the London-based head of research at the maritime agency Banchero Costa, said flat out "there is no justification whatsoever for a new canal through Nicaragua."

"We already have a canal through Panama that works pretty well" and is being expanded to handle larger freighters," he said.

Leszczynski said a relatively small part of world trade needs to pass through the Panama Canal, so another one through Nicaragua would be a pointless duplication.

The Managua government says the new canal would require construction of deep water ports, an airport, an oil pipeline, a railroad, and that building it would take between six and 10 years.

Six possible routes are being considered. The one considered most likely to get the nod by specialists would stretch over a distance of 286 kilometers (177 miles) between the Pacific and the Caribbean, passing through Lake Nicaragua, which covers 8,600 square kilometers (3,320 square miles) and is the country's main source of drinking water.

By comparison the length of the Panama Canal is about 77 kilometers (48 miles).

Environmentalists see a very steep downside risk.

"Even a small fuel leak or an earthquake could generate an ecological disaster that would end the lake's drinking water potential forever," said biologist Salvador Montenegro, head of water resources research at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua.

What is more, "everything is being done quickly and in silence. There is a shroud" surrounding the project, said Ana Quiros, director of the Autonomous Women's Movement, one of the country's most active social organizations.

She also expressed doubt about Wang.

"He lacks credentials to make you think he is an experienced businessman and powerful builder," she said.

Quiros complained, for instance, that Wang won a concession to start up a telephone company in Nicaragua but she said she is unaware of any progress having been made on that front.


Related Links
Global Trade News

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

US names 'notorious markets' for piracy, counterfeiting
Washington (AFP) Feb 12, 2014
The United States on Wednesday named China the leading place for physical markets selling counterfeit goods, while websites in Europe, South America and Canada led in online sales of fakes. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Notorious Markets List for 2013 highlights markets that allegedly harm US businesses and jobs by infringing on intellectual property rights. The USTR sa ... read more

Lighter engines a headache for satellite launcher Ariane

ILS Proton Successfully Launches TURKSAT-4A for Turksat

Amazonas 4A is prepared for Arianespace's second Ariane 5 flight of 2014

An Early 2014 Surprise - Arianespace Needs More Money

Curiosity Drives On After Crossing Martian Dune

The World Above and Beyond

Mars Rover Heads Uphill After Solving 'Doughnut' Riddle

'Pinnacle Island' Rock Studies Continue

Chang'e-2 lunar probe travels 70 mln km

LADEE Sends Its First Images of the Moon Back to Earth

Source of 'Moon Curse' Revealed by Eclipse

NASA bets on private companies to exploit moon's resources

Thanks America, New Horizons Ahead

Countdown to Pluto

A Busy Year Begins for New Horizons

Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet

One planet, two stars: new research shows how circumbinary planets form

First Weather Map of Brown Dwarf

NASA-Sponsored 'Disk Detective' Lets Public Search for New Planetary Nurseries

Orion Stage Adapter Aces Structural Loads Testing

Teledyne unit wins $60 million contract to build NASA launch adapter

NASA Selects Space Launch System Adapter Hardware Manufacturer

Boeing to Mentor AMRO Through NASA Mentor-Protege Program

What's up, Yutu

China's Jade Rabbit rover comes 'back to life'

Yutu Awakes

Moon plays trick on Jade Rabbit

Responding to Potential Asteroid Redirect Mission Targets

A good year to find a comet

Software helps astronomers find faint, tiny comet in deep solar system

Russian scientists break ground in new asteriod discovery

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.