Nicaragua canal construction delayed

By Helen Wright09 January 2014

Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega with HKND Group chairman Wang Jing

Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega with HKND Group chairman Wang Jing

Authorities in Nicaragua have delayed construction of a planned US$ 40 billion canal linking the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean by a year.

The Nicaraguan Canal Authority said more time was needed to carry out feasibility studies and finalise the route.

The delay comes as problems have struck the canal expansion project in Panama, work on which began in 2009. As the project nears completion, the consortium building the new locks has threatened to halt work unless it receives more funding from the Panama Canal Authority.

The Nicaraguan Canal would be a rival to the Panama project, connecting the Caribbean with the Pacific via Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca, Central America's largest freshwater lake. Depending on which is chosen, a route of at least 100 km and up to 300 km would need to be excavated for the canal.

In June last year, the Nicaraguan Congress approved a law to allow a Chinese company to construct and operate the canal. The agreement could see Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment construct the canal over a ten-year period and then operate it for up to a century.

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