Published June 07, 2012
Nicaragua's government plans to build a $30 billion interoceanic canal within the next 10 years, calling that project a "priority" and an addition to the country's "national heritage."
A bill for the canal's construction, which President Daniel Ortega sent Tuesday to the unicameral National Assembly and to which Efe gained access, states that the project would complement and not compete with the Panama Canal.
The waterway, according to the bill, would be built over a period of no more than 10 years once it has been approved by lawmakers and could be completed by 2019.
The Nicaraguan canal would have the capacity to handle 416 million metric tons of cargo by 2019, or 3.9 percent of the global total, and 573 million metric tons by 2025, or 4.5 percent of the global total, the bill said.
Nicaragua plans to own 51 percent of the shares and profits of the mixed public-private venture and offer the remaining 49 percent to a range of possible investors, from countries and international organizations to individuals and corporations,
Neighboring Costa Rica, meanwhile, said it should be consulted about the future construction of the waterway because the project could adversely affect its rights.
"Nicaragua cannot make plans for an interoceanic canal without requesting and hearing Costa Rica's opinion beforehand," the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that in cases such as this in which its sovereign rights could be affected that opinion would be "binding."