New canal may double Nicaragua’s economy

Global Business

Construction is underway on Nicaragua’s canal. It’s being called the world’s largest infrastructure project, with the potential to double the economy in that Central American nation. CCTV America’s Franc Contreras reported from ground zero of the massive project.

New canal may double Nicaragua's economy

Construction is underway on Nicaragua's canal. It's being called the world's largest infrastructure project, with the potential to double the economy in that Central American nation. CCTV America's Franc Contreras reported from ground zero of the massive project.

In the past, the idea of building the Panama Canal seemed to many like an outrageously massive and even an unachievable task.

Top engineers with the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Group working on the Nicaragua canal said the project will easily dwarf its competition in Panama.

The so-called Fast-Track project is now in the design phase. When the canal is completed in about five years, it will be more than 280 kilometers (about 174 miles) long and 30 meters (98.5 feet) deep.

The project’s chief engineer said the pure logistics of this canal is a huge challenge and another is Nicaragua’s hot, tropical climate.

“We set a very aggressive timetable, so the challenge I see is doing such a big project in a country that doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure for construction, doesn’t have a lot of labor for construction, and doesn’t have a lot of resources for construction,” HKND Chief Project Advisor Bill Wild said.

The construction of a massive seaport will take place where the Brito River dumps into the Pacific Ocean.

Many logistics experts expected a bright future for global shipping and said by the time the Nicaragua canal is in place, the amount of cargo moving on the world’s oceans will continue to expand.

The Nicaraguan government said that when the project is finished, the new canal will be able to handle the world’s largest cargo ships and will help grow the country’s economy, which is one of the weakest in all the Americas.

“In the coming year, we are expecting about 5 percent growth. With no problem, the canal will double our economy, but everything depends on the amounts and way in which investments come,” Ovidio Reyes, Nicaragua Central Bank president, said.

It’s still unclear how the financing for this mega-project will be achieved. But once completed, the HKDG expects that the canal will completely transform this part of the global economy.


Nicaragua canal meets social and environmental challenges

Nicaragua canal meets social and environmental challenges

The government official in charge of the project said efforts are being taken to protect the environment.

The government official in charge of the project said efforts are being taken to protect the environment.

“A 4th route is more expensive than some of the other choices, but it has the lowest environmental and social costs. So environmental concerns and social concerns trump costs, and the 4th route was chosen,” Paul Oquist, Nicaragua Canel Project Supervisor, said.

The government told CCTV that some 28,000 people must be relocated to make way for the canal.

“The government has not come to talk about this. We’re waiting for them to have this conversation about how our communities will be affected,” Natividad Cruz Guzman, a La Junta resident, said.

The Nicaraguan government said those affected will receive fair compensation. “The criteria is that everyone at the end of the day is going to be better off than they were before,” Oquist said.

Another government’s priority is protecting Lake Nicaragua, which is the largest source of fresh water in Central America. That could be a challenge considering some of the world’s biggest cargo ships will pass through here.


Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood explains the implications of the Nicaragua canal

CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes interviewed Miami Herald newspaper’s World Editor John Yearwood about the implications of the grand canal.

Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood explains the implications of the Nicaragua canal

CCTV America's Elaine Reyes interviewed Miami Herald newspaper's World Editor John Yearwood about the implications of the grand canal.