A Chinese company and a former Sandinista revolutionary leader (three-time and current Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega) are teaming up to revive an old idea — create an alternative to the Panama Canal that will traverse through Nicaragua.
With this week’s approval by the Nicaraguan legislature of construction of a trans-oceanic canal through the country, the draft agreement between the Hong Kong registered company and the government of Nicaragua stands a decent chance of proceeding. Is it a nutty idea? Not according to the government and project developers, who see it as economically transformational for Nicaragua, the region, and global consumers, who in theory stand to benefit from reduced shipping costs.
Never mind that the 155 mile-long waterway will be three times longer than the Panama Canal, will cost $40 billion to construct, will take an estimated 11 years to construct, or that the Panama Canal is just about to finish doubling its own capacity to accommodate larger ships and heavier traffic. None of that appears to matter to the project developers. So, how many years of shipping fees would it take to recoup at $40 billion investment? Answer: a long, long time. That will no doubt matter to prospective investors.