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20 years

Chinese developer considering changing route of planned canal in Nicaragua

August 4th, 2015 (ICR News) HKND Group, the company controlled by a Chinese telecom billionaire that has been granted a 50-year concession to develop the Nicaragua Grand Interoceanic Canal, says it is considering changing the route of the canal.


“HKND is considering modifications in the design of the canal,” Kwok Wai Pang, the company’s vice president, told Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario on Monday.


Kwok said that the changes seek to “avoid affecting the people of El Tule,” who live along the river of the same name in the southern department of Rio San Juan, as a result of what Kwok called the “legitimate concerns” of the area’s inhabitants.


Kwok said the company also plans to make changes to the Pacific entry of the canal, at the mouth of the Brito River in order to prevent damage to sensitive environmental areas.


Details about the changes, however will not be announced until the government of President Daniel Ortega approves environmental impact studies submitted by his company in June, Kwok said.


“We need to wait for approval of the environmental and social impact studies and agree, together with the government, on mitigation measures before proceeding with the final design of the canal,” Kwok said.


Some scientists have already criticized those studies.


While the Nicaraguan government claims that the canal will benefit the country’s floundering economy, many Nicaraguans are not convinced of the project’s benefits.  Over the past year, protests have accelerated throughout Nicaragua, with much of the country’s population concerned over the loss of homes and land.


Officials claim that the canal will generate at least 50,000 jobs in construction alone – half of them for Nicaraguan workers – a promising number for the second poorest country in Latin America.


At 173 miles long, Nicaragua’s canal would dwarf that of Panama, whose canal stretches just 48 miles.


HKND has promised to complete the $50 billion project by 2020.


Editor’s note: This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the Nicaragua canal project.  Click here for more.

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