Nicaragua canal: Plan, nothing more

The Economist weighs in,
Nicaragua’s proposed canal
A man, a plan—and little else
Yet again, Nicaraguans are letting their longing for a trans-oceanic canal get the better of them

Since June, when the Sandinista-stuffed National Assembly rubber-stamped a law granting a 50-year concession, renewable up to 100 years, to Mr Wang’s HKND Group, many have wondered whether the 40-year-old telecoms boss is a crank. In August the Associated Press reported that in many countries, including Nicaragua, where he has claimed to be doing business, his companies are barely noticeable. Although both Mr Wang and President Daniel Ortega insist that the project will go ahead, people who have worked with HKND say it has more of an option to build than an obligation. In effect, the cost of the option is the tens of millions of dollars that Mr Wang is expected to pay from his own pocket to find out which route is most physically and financially feasible.

Hence ERM, a British consultancy, is looking at the environmental and social impact of digging a deep channel through Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest in Latin America, and carving through ancestral indigenous lands. Australian engineers are pondering how to remove millions of truckloads of dirt in a country with no large excavators, let alone nearby roads or railways. McKinsey, a business consultancy, is said to be working out how the project could make enough money to entice sovereign-wealth funds to bankroll it.

Good luck with that; all they have is dubious plans and abundant unknowns.

Again: the Chinese government are not involved in this; only Wang Jing – and he and Ortega already made a $300million sweet deal.

I’ve been saying all along, Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

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