Nicaragua starts building waterway to compete with Panama Canal

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Works to build Nicaragua's US$40bn-50bn inter-oceanic canal have begun in the Rivas department, according to local media reports.

The controversial project – a 50-year concession awarded to China's HKND Group to build and operate a waterway to compete with the Panama Canal – entered its construction phase amid social protests that included shutting down highways.

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President Daniel Ortega kicked off the works on Monday with a ceremony in Managua, where he said the population affected by the project would receive compensation, though he did not specify any amounts. Environmental organizations opposed to the canal said that the construction would affect 30,000 people.

At a second ceremony in Rivas, HKND head Wang Jing said the project plan includes acquiring property, building access roads, completing the environmental impact study and launching the first tenders during the first quarter of 2015.

In 3Q15, the company plans to begin excavations, while the following quarter would see the tendering of the design and construction of locks.

No details about the project's economic viability or investors were revealed at the ceremonies.

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