Nicaragua Canal Consortium Reappears

Wang Jing’s HKND Group: They are working on the design for building the Brito port.

After over a year of silence, the concessionary company is making new promises.

EFE / Confidencial

The consultations on the environmental and social impact studies were carried out behind closed doors in Managua.  Photo: Carlos Herrera/Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES — The concessionary company of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal, the Chinese firm HKND Group, informed that it is working “with international partners” to move ahead with designs for the western locks and Brito port, in the Nicaraguan Pacific.

In a public statement, HKND Group explained that they are finalizing design plans for building Brito port, on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast.

The consortium says it is focused on beginning construction work on this port and that BMT, an international infrastructure and ocean engineering consultancy firm, who is drawing up the reference design.

“We are finalizing the port’s design plans, based on the latest results obtained from studies of the subsoil and studies of how the canal will operate,” it pointed out.

This design, which will substitute an earlier design, providing a better response to the risk of natural disasters, like earthquakes and tsunamis, and will also provide a significantly greater port capacity, which might be necessary according to BMT’s latest studies about the canal’s possible traffic, HKND Group added.

With regard to the locks, which are the most fundamental and complex structures within this project, the company says it is still coming up with the reference design for the lock that will be located in the western sector.

“We are revising the latest geotechnical information in order to confirm a better location on the whole for the lock, and therefore avoid fault lines which were evident at the previous location,” the concessionaire claimed.

“This, along with a series of additional studies about hydrology, the water balance and salinity, will allow us to ensure greater security and the infrastructure’s minimum impact on the environment,” the firm explained. Furthermore, HKND Group says it has put the whole project’s logistics planning into action.

In relation to managing the project’s environmental and social impact, the Chinese firm is developing relevant plans in strict adherence to recommendations made in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), carried out by the British company Environmental Resources Management (ERM).

President Daniel Ortega’s Government granted the Chinese firm HKND Group concessions for the canal for 50 years which can be extended by another 50 years.

According to the latest design, the project consists of a 276 km long waterway, which will be 230-280 m wide, and includes two ports, an airport, two artificial lakes, two locks, a free trade area and tourist resorts, among other features.

According to the company’s calculations, the canal would begin to operate five years after work begins on the most important structures, that is to say, excavation of the canal and building the western lock, which was supposed to begin in the first semester in 2017, after consecutive delays over several years for a variety of reasons.

The project is estimated to cost approximately 50 billion USD, according to the HKND Group.

Nicaragua’s goverment hopes that 50,000 jobs are created and that the national gross domestic product (GDP) doubles with this project.