Nicaragua plans to begin building access roads and highways on Monday near the country’s Pacific coast as it starts work on a $50 billion inter-oceanic canal meant to rival Panama’s century-old waterway.
…At an estimated cost more than four times the size of Nicaragua’s $11 billion economy, the project has raised doubts among analysts who point to HKND’s lack of experience in major infrastructure projects and question the need for another Central American canal. Panama is planning to complete a $5.25 billion expansion of its waterway next year.
“I think there is some skepticism about it getting built and getting built on time and on budget,” said Lee Klaskow, a marine shipping analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “There are a bunch of active volcanoes in and around the area.”
Nicaragua’s canal would also require higher locks than Panama’s since it is 20 feet more above sea level he said.
There is more from Bloomberg here. Here is further coverage:
No feasibility study, environmental-impact report, business case or financing plan has yet been released. Instead come platitudes from the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega about how it will bring a jobs bonanza and end poverty.
So far, it has brought as much fear as hope. Since Chinese-speaking surveyors, backed by Nicaraguan soldiers and police, began assessing land and houses along the canal’s proposed 278km (172-mile) route a few months ago (see map), peasants fearful of their land being expropriated have taken to the streets 16 times. On December 10th several thousand, shouting “We don’t want the Chinese”, protested in Managua, the capital, despite police efforts to keep them in their villages, activists say. Boatmen in Punta Gorda on the Caribbean coast have refused to ferry heavy machinery to be used to begin construction, fearing their livelihoods will be harmed.
Maybe the equilibrium here is “start first, plan later” — what does that imply about the nature of the underlying game? We’re going to see how good that vaunted Chinese soft power really is.