British consultants’ study warns of risks in Nicaragua Canal project

An environmental study on the viability of the proposed Nicaragua Canal found that the project faces many risks, according to Reuters.
The study, by British consultants Environmental Resources Management Ltd was commissioned by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co (HKND Group), which owns the concession to build and operate the $50bn 276-kilometre canal. An early version was handed to the company and the Nicaraguan government in May but had not been released to the media or public previously, although summaries and key points had been leaked.

ERM’s report said the canal could benefit the country if international standards on protecting wildlife reserves and protecting against earthquake hazards are observed. But the study was dubious about the tight timeline for the project. Last week the projected start of construction was deferred to 2016 for various reasons including uncertainties about the canal’s route.

The project was originally envisaged as starting in mid 2013 but has been postponed to early 2014 and again to early 2015 and now 2016. The completion target is 2020 but many experts say that is unrealistic. This study reiterates that view.

It’s not the first time alarm bells have been sounded over the project.

In June a panel of experts, brought together by Florida International University, claimed that the canal could prove disastrous for Nicaragua if a proper evaluation of its impact is not undertaken.

Industry experts have also wondered if the canal could prove a white elephant in competition against the long-established – and soon to be expanded – Panama Canal to its south.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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