Nicaraguan officials and a Chinese company broke ground Monday last on a US$50B transoceanic waterway predicted to rival the Panama Canal, but which has been a source of anger and protests from citizens in recent weeks.
Citizens are concerned about losing their lands and about the secrecy surrounding the project.
The secrecy problem facing citizens of Nicaragua is similar to the issue facing Guyanese citizens with many of the projects that the Chinese are involved in including the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.
The groundbreaking of the canal project marked the start of some ancillary projects in Brito, a city about three miles from Nicaragua’s Pacific coast where the first port will be built.
Thousands of Nicaraguans have protested in the lead-up, fearing their land will be taken without fair compensation.
“We’re not going to allow them to kick us out of our property. We’re ready to die before we give our property to the Chinese,” said Orlando Ocampo, who leads the farmers in Tule, a municipality about 150 miles southeast of Managua on the Caribbean side of the canal route.
As work officially began, Nicaraguan and international reporters hoped to see any evidence of how it would be done in a fraction of the time it took to build the much-shorter Panama Canal, or discover who would pay for it, were left with more questions than answers.
Reuters reported that at events marking the start of what is meant to be a five- year job, Nicaraguan officials and the Hong Kong-based company behind the canal dodged questions about its financial backers, mounting delays and whether Washington had been consulted.
So far the company, the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd, or HKND Group, of telecoms entrepreneur Wang Jing, has identified only $200 million in funding.
“The canal has one enemy and that’s the lack of information,” said Benjamin Lanzas, head of Nicaragua’s construction industry group, who met Wang in China. “That lack of information has created a great deal of speculation.”
At 172 miles (278 km), the waterway is over three times the length of the 100-year-old Panama Canal, which was completed by the United States 34 years after French engineers began it.
The five-year timetable in Nicaragua has led many to surmise the Chinese government is secretly bankrolling the plan, which both China and Wang have repeatedly denied.
Yet Wang’s reluctance to reveal his backers or much of his business background has failed to dispel suspicions.
For now, China’s government can stay aloof and claim no part in the project in case it founders, experts say.
Experts say too that China may be deliberately keeping distance from the project as “If it fails, that’s a bad image. They have to maintain their distance.”
China’s involvement would be a direct challenge to the United States, which controlled the Panama Canal until 1999.
Last year, Ortega’s allies in Congress fast-tracked legislation granting Honk Kong-based HKND a 50-year concession, renewable for another 50, to build and operate a canal in return for a payment of $10 million a year once it’s up and running. The law lets HKND develop ancillary projects, Ports, an airport, roads, and a railway even if the canal doesn’t get built.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with Wang Jing, president of the contracting firm HKND Group, said the canal will change the economy of Nicaragua, one of Latin America’s poorest countries, as well as the rest of the hemisphere.
Jan 21, 2019President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Wayne Forde challenged participants of the Concacaf facilitated two-day Club Marketing Workshop, which c oncluded yesterday, to strive to implement...
The Police Commissioner told a press conference that Charrandass Persaud is being investigated for bribery and if possible... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]