HKND held Briefing Seminars about the Grand Canal Project
From July 14-16, 2014, HKND held six consecutive briefing seminars about the Grand Canal project across the country in Managua, Rivas, Bluefields and New Guinea, in collaboration with the Nicaraguan government, the Superior Council of Private Enterprises (COSEP), the American Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua (AMCHAM), the National Recycling Forum (FONARE), the National Council of Universities (CNU) and Environmental Resources Management (ERM). HKND team shared project details and its implications with local government agencies, community representatives, university principals as well as students and university staff. The seminars took place at Hotel Camino Real Managua, National University of Engineering (UNI), International University of Agriculture and Livestock, Rivas (UNIAG Rivas), National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN), Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) and University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN) respectively. The briefing seminars were widely covered by local media.
Mr. Telémaco Talavera, member of the Grand Canal Commission and President of the CNU told the attendees that Nicaragua is in the best time of its history, that the country has achieved significant improvements in the status of women by ranking 10th place in the world in gender equality, and has maintained a sustained economic growth and low inflation rates driven by the National Human Development Plan. He added that Nicaragua has also maintained extensive relations with international community and at the same time the social cohesion has been strengthened as a result of sound public security. With the development of the Grand Canal as a world logistics and trade center, Nicaragua is ready to enter a new era of development.
Professor Pang, Deputy General manager of HKND’s Construction Management Department, and Mr. Tian Ye, the Canal Project Manager, made a presentation on engineering design and highlighted the advanced technology and environmental protection measures adopted in the canal construction design to alleviate public concerns on environmental issues. HKND team assured the community that with the innovative design, there would be neither negative impact to the water level of Lake Nicaragua and Rio San Juan nor salt intrusion into the freshwater lake. Moreover, the Canal could form a physical barrier on the southeast border of Indio-Maiz ecological reserve to prevent further human encroachment into the area. With the implementation of environmentally sound waste management, disposal sites will be converted into high-quality farmland and forestry through rehabilitation to restore ecological damage to the vegetation. All the measures above will bring positive effects to local environment.
Mr. Lu Dong, General Manager of HKND’s Public Relations Department, emphasized that there would be numerous job opportunities created in the varied stages of the Canal project, and that local SMEs’ involvement and development would be promoted in all aspects. While talking about the public concern over a shortage of high-quality workforce in Nicaragua, he expressed the intention to collaborate with Nicaraguan government and universities to promote educational development and train up technical professionals. Construction and operation of the Canal and other sub-projects will not only provide those professionals with employment opportunities, but also represent long-term job-creation potential.
Land acquisition and resettlement plan or RAP is a highly sensitive and important element of the Canal project as it is what concerns Nicaraguan people the most. Mr. Lu expressed that public consultation on project social implications will be furthered with a meticulous household survey to be carried out very soon. Through specific consultations, land owners’ assets and interests will be fully respected, and those who have been affected by the Project will be properly compensated. Apart from financial compensation, the population located on the route will also have more access to employment and education, which ensures fair and reasonable compensation. The Plan will also improve the communities’ standard of living.
A briefing seminar held at Bluefields was attended by a number of native and Afro-descendants’ representatives. How to protect their interests and the continuity and development of cultural heritage became the hot topics on site. Through cordial dialogues with the audience, Mr. Lu expressed that the cultural heritage and humanistic traditions in Nicaragua would be fully respected and protected throughout the construction and operation of the Grand Canal and its sub-projects. Meanwhile, the Grand Canal will bring opportunities for Nicaragua to open up to the world the splendid Nicaraguan cultural heritage, by attracting more people, which in return serves as a great opportunity to promote and develop their culture and traditions.
The series of briefing seminars have helped the public to have more information about the Project. Although faced with public unease and doubt, HKNG Group’s work principles and its confidence and determination to help develop Nicaragua were introduced in a friendly way, which in return, resonated with enthusiasm among the audience. These activities reflected HKND Group’s open attitude and sincerity, which has won positive social feedback and marked as a successful step toward a broad understanding and support from the community.
In late July, HKND will begin another round of intensive scoping meetings in many locations in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan people will be able to talk face to face with HKND’s technical, environmental impact assessment and public relations team to better understand the Project and have their concerns addressed. In the meantime, their suggestions and recommendations will become the driving force and the commitment for a better project development.