MANAGUA - Agence France-Presse
A cargo ship sails through the Panama Canal in Panama City May 23. Nicaragua, a Central American country, aims at creating an alternative to the Panama Canal. AP photo
Nicaraguan lawmakers approved a law July 3 aimed at creating an alternative to the Panama Canal, a $30 billion project President Daniel Ortega says will lift the country out of poverty.
“We can make this dream a reality,” said Edwin Castro, legislative leader of the majority Sandinista party.
“I don’t know if they will find the funding for this canal, but it is hopeful,” said opposition legislator Wilfredo Navarro.
The initiative, approved by 85 of 91 lawmakers, establishes a legal system for the proposed 200-kilometer (125-mile) canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The legislation also creates a Grand Canal Authority that will have the power to direct the project’s state and private funding as well as to supervise the work.
Plans to build a canal across Nicaragua date back centuries, but were overtaken by the construction of the 82-kilometer (51-mile) Panama Canal. In recent years, however, Nicaraguan governments have revived the concept as a way to promote development in the second poorest country in the Americas after Haiti. Feasibility studies are expected to cost $350 million, while actual construction could hit $30 billion.
The government is proposing to raise the funds through a joint public/private partnership, with the state maintaining a 51 percent stake.