Wed, Jun 03, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Nicaragua canal project study delivered, details scarce

Reuters, MANAGUA

A long-awaited study on the impact of a proposed US$50 billion Nicaraguan waterway by a British consultancy has been delivered, a canal official said on Monday, the first major milestone since a symbolic ceremony six months ago.

The social and environmental impact study by Environmental Resources Management Ltd (ERM) is to be discussed by an inter-institutional commission this month, before being voted on by the canal commission next month, said Telemaco Talavera, spokesman of the government canal commission.

The 278km Chinese-backed project, which the Nicaraguan government said is to be operational by 2020, is one of the world’s most ambitious infrastructure schemes, but has been met with widespread incredulity.

Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group), which is controlled by Wang Jing (王靖), a Chinese telecom mogul well connected to China’s political elite, owns the concession to build and operate the canal.

“In summary, ERM says that the project offers potential benefits for the environment and the people of Nicaragua,” Talavera told state media, without giving more details.

ERM spokesman Manuel Roman said on state media that the company was not for or against the project, adding that the study had highlighted the potential challenges of the scheme for the government and HKND to decide how to proceed.

After a chiefly symbolic groundbreaking ceremony in Managua last year, from which members of the international media were barred, Wang said that the environmental study would be finished by the first quarter of this year, with excavation work beginning by the end of September.

Nicaraguan presidential spokesman Paul Oquist in December last year said that feasibility studies, including a McKinsey report that experts said would define interest in financing the canal, would also be ready by April.

In January, the US embassy in Managua said it was concerned by a lack of information surrounding the canal, calling for all relevant documents pertaining to the project to be made public.

If completed, the canal could give China a major foothold in Central America, a region long dominated by the US.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top