Almost 100 years after the inauguration of the Panama Canal in 1914, construction is set to begin for a new landmark canal. Known as the Nicaragua Canal, this would be among the biggest construction projects to be undertaken in recent times on the planet, reports ABC News.
In the latest announcement pertaining to the Nicaragua Canal, the HKND group based out of Hong Kong and the Nicaragua government have jointly unveiled the proposed route for the massive $40 billion Nicaragua Canal project according to Reuters. HKND is owned by Chinese businessman Wang Jing. According to the Nicaraguan government, the canal is likely to stretch 173 miles (278 kilometers) of which 65 miles (105 kilometers) would spane across Lake Nicaragua. The engineers at HKND are assessing six possible routes for the Nicaragua Canal
According to Reuters, the Nicaragua Canal would be another inter-ocean canal like the Panama Canal that would link the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Now, if we already have a working Panama Canal, what is the need for yet another Nicaragua Canal, you might be thinking, right? The reason is actually quite simple. Apart from being extremely busy and bursting at its seams, the Panama Canal also has lots of restrictions on the kind of ships it could accommodate. Many large ships of today are simply too big for the Panama Canal and the scope for an upgrade is limited as well. The answer? Make another canal – even bigger than the Panama Canal.
Apart from being bigger and capable of handling bigger vessels, the Nicaragua Canal would also end up saving nearly 800 miles for a ship that would want to travel from the west coast to the east coast of the U.S. Mainland. This is because ships would have to no longer travel further down south until the Panama Canal to cross over.
As expected of a project of this size, controversies are numerous. While the Nicaraguan President claims that most Nicaraguans are in support of the project, there are others – including members of the opposition who claim that the deal with HKND violates the country’s sovereignty. The project is also blamed to adversely affect the fragile ecology of the region. HKND officials however defend the project by claiming the thousands of jobs would be generated
But HKND officials said the canal project will employ about 50,000 people directly and indirectly benefit another 200,000 people.
“This project is going to be the biggest built in the history of humanity. It will be an enormous help to the Nicaraguan people and for the world in general, because world trade will require it, we are sure of this,” Wang Jing was quoted saying.
The construction of the Nicaragua Canal is expected to begin in December 2014 and could go on for well over five years.
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]