Construction of Nicaraguan Canal Delayed
The construction starting date for the $50 billion Nicaraguan Canal has slipped to late 2016, reports the International Business Times.
The canal’s developer HKND is reported to have said that it needs more time to fine-tune the project. HKND was granted the exclusive right to build the canal in 2013, and the company had expected construction to commence this year.
The news of the delay comes after the recent approval granted for the company’s environmental and social impact studies for the project.
HKND has claimed the canal could be completed by 2020, however this has been seen as overly ambitious, and Wang Jing, head of HKND, recently lost almost $9 billion of his net worth as a result of the Chinese financial crash.
The planned project includes the construction of two ports, a free-trade zone and an international airport. The canal is designed to accommodate container vessels up to 25,000 TEU, super tankers of 320,000 dwt and bulk carriers of 400,000 dwt.
Environmental scientists have questioned whether its construction would disrupt sensitive land and water ecosystems in Nicaragua. Their concerns center around the waters of Lake Nicaragua, which will be partly filled in as reclaimed land using silt from excavation.
HKND has designed retaining systems intended to prevent this silt from creating excess turbidity in the lake's waters. HKND Chief Project Advisor Bill Wild has said that total reclamation from excavation spoils could result in the creation of 30,000 hectares of land – over a hundred square miles.
Social activists have expressed concern that the canal would disrupt the lives of those in its path. A resident of Brito, a coastal area that will become the seaport for delivery of canal construction materials and equipment, told a reporter that locals had already been informed by Chinese surveyors that they will have to leave. HKND estimates that a total of nearly 30,000 people will be displaced by construction.
HKND said in a statement that it is committed to carrying out resettlement of the displaced people completely in compliance with international best practice and has committed that all the relocated people will see improvements in their living standards.