EFE: HKND Dismisses Water and Land Problems in Nicaragua for Canal Project
Managua, 21 April (EFE). - HKND, the Chinese concessionaire of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal Project, today dismissed the idea that the project faces problems due to lack of water and land tenure in this Central American country.
In terms of a possible water shortage, the chief adviser of HKND, Bill Wild, said that the company is "convinced" that there will be sufficient resources and expressed the "commitment" of HKND to reach an agreement that is able to satisfy land owners.
"We are reviewing further the water balance of our canal (...) we are more convinced that the canal indeed will have enough water for its operation," Wild said to reporters.
The water issue is critical because this Central American country is experiencing its third consecutive year of drought, and the shallowness of the Great Lake of Nicaragua, of about 30 meters, might not be enough for navigation of large vessels. "In this process, more new designs and optimizations are being generated, which help us to further reduce the need for water," Wild said.
Regarding the issue of land, the representative of HKND affirmed that there will be three negotiation alternatives with landowners: "the direct purchase of land, the possibility of relocation and the option of an exchange". "But the most important thing is to maintain the commitment that, when this occurs, it will be at fair market value of the land," Wild explained.
The land issue is crucial, as farmers who consider themselves affected by the construction of the canal oppose selling their properties.
HKND estimates that about 6,800 families (27,000 person) could be affected by the construction of the canal.
In recent days, the National Assembly (parliament) rejected an initiative to repeal the law that orders the construction of the interoceanic canal, which is supported by 28,000 people who consider themselves affected.
Wild gave his remarks after meeting representatives of private enterprise in Nicaragua this Thursday, one day before a national march against the canal organized by farmers that might be affected.
HKND holds the concession for the construction and management of the canal for a period of 50 years plus 50 renewable years. According to the latest design, the project consists of a waterway of 276 kilometers long, 230 to 280 meters wide, and includes two ports, an airport, two artificial lakes, two locks, a free trade zone and several tourist resorts, among others.
The canal would come into operation, according to HKND, five years after the start of the most important works, i.e., excavation, and construction of the west lock, scheduled to start in late 2016.
The project cost is estimated at about US$ 50,000 million, according to HKND Group.
Nicaragua expects the project construction would create around 50,000 jobs and double the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).