Nicaragua’s Mega Canal Project

Paul Chong                                             Thursday, 2 February 2017

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The Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project (also referred to as the Nicaragua Grand Canal, or the Grand Interoceanic Canal) is a planned shipping route through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea (and therefore the Atlantic Ocean) with the Pacific Ocean.

president-daniel-ortegaDaniel Ortega (Nicaragua President) & Wang Jing (Chinese billionaire)

The current project is supposed to cost $50 billion, financed by a mysterious Chinese business tycoon named Wang Jing who is backed, almost certainly, by the Chinese government behind the scenes.

The plan is much broader than just a canal. Mr. Wang’s vision includes new airports, new ports on both ends of the canal, new lakes in the mountains to make sure the canal has enough water, and new islands in Lake Nicaragua to dispose of excavated sediment and rock.

The little-known Wang made his fortune in telecommunications, not in construction. Chinese billionaire, Wang Jing, officially broke ground (December 2014) & the project was scheduled to be completed in 6 years.

Delay has been due to Wang’s recent setbacks — he has reportedly lost about 80 percent of his $10 billion fortune. Some experts say the deal is probably dead.
Three times as long and twice as deep as the Panama Canal, it would slice 170 miles across the southern part of the country — bulldozing through fragile ecosystems, virgin forests and scenes of incredible beauty. It would allow for the passage of the world’s largest ships, vessels the length of skyscrapers that are too big for the Panama Canal.

Facilitating the movement of goods from the Pacific to the Atlantic aligns with Chinese interests, and the cost of the project is hardly an obstacle if the Chinese government wants to go forward — if it is involved.

Mr. Daniel Ortega, a left-wing guerrilla turned pro-business politician, promised that the canal would transform Nicaragua and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, eventually doubling the country’s gross domestic product. Many Nicaraguans, eager for a better future, embraced the idea, and many still do.

Experts are concerned about the seismic activity in the area, or the many volcanoes. And then there is the 50-mile trench to be dug on the floor of Lake Nicaragua, the largest body of fresh water in Central America — which many fear could end up contaminating, even killing, the lake.

Economists and human rights activists also object to the powers Wang has to expropriate land at far less than market rates, saying the terms of Wang’s concession could discourage anyone else from investing in Nicaragua.

In answers to written questions, Pang Kwok Wai, the executive vice president of Wang’s company, the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company, said Wang was in talks with potential investors and would announce progress “in due form.” He said Wang had already invested about $500 million of his own money.

The idea behind this mega project is that it can handle more and bigger ships. Maybe more likely, the canal will remain the unrealized dream of men who want to enshrine their names in glory forever.

Hope for the Poor         Some Protests

With China interest of globalization & sharing its economic growth & technology however, most of the problems are not insurmountable. Some still hope this mega project will lift the country out of poverty.

One thought on “Nicaragua’s Mega Canal Project

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