171 miles long, a width of up to 1,706 feet, and a reported cost of nearly 50 billion dollars. These are just some of the extraordinary numbers behind the recently approved Nicaragua Canal. The project is being financed by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company or HKND, which is led by Chinese telecom mogul and billionaire Wang Jin.
When completed, the final structure will be nearly three times the size of its more famous rival, The Panama Canal. It is also rumored that the agreement between the Nicaraguan government and HKND, will give the financiers the majority share of profits from the canal for 50 years, and allow them unique access to pursue other infrastructure projects across the country. If this is the case, then HKND will be given the right to possess any land that they believe is essential to any future developments.
Of course, the venture is not without its controversy. Nicaraguan President David Ortega claims that the canal will lead to significant growth of the economy of Nicaragua, and create 50,000 jobs by 2018. However, the government and HKND have kept the numbers behind these statistics away from the public, leading to suspicion amongst the Nicaraguan people.
Environmentally, the construction of such an endeavor would be devastating. The project will require the removal of 4.5 billion cubic meters of earth. The run off from this could create a “dead zone” in Lake Nicaragua, and eliminate a large amount of animal and plant species that rely on the lake to survive. Large tracts of Rainforest will also be removed, which would almost certainly lead to a negative environmental impact on a global scale.
Residents of areas surrounding the canal site also face massive displacement. For those who own property in the construction zone, it is rumored that the Nicaraguan government will force them to sell their land rights for only $100 US dollars.
Whether or not you agree with the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, it goes without saying that this undertaking will be one of, if not the largest infrastructure project in modern times. The ambitious nature of this massive civil engineering venture has almost no precedent in human history. Because of this, it is safe to say that for the next few years, the eyes of the world will be focused on Nicaragua.
Woods, E. D. (2015, July 23). Nicaragua’s Bizarre Plan to Bury the Panama Canal. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.outsideonline.com/1992761/shovel-ready-nicaragua-canal
Lakhani, N. (2014, October 26). Giant canal threatens way of life on the banks of Lake Nicaragua. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/nicaragua/11167697/Giant-canal-threatens-way-of-life-on-the-banks-of-Lake-Nicaragua.html