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Nicaragua proposes another canal

Nicaragua proposes another canal

Just weeks ahead of Panama’s national referendum on the proposed $5.3 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, the government of Nicaragua Monday announced plans for a second waterway to link the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

   Nicaragua’s President Enrique Bolanos announced the plans at a meeting in Managua at the seventh Western Hemisphere’s Defense Ministers Conference.

   Bolanos said the Grand Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal project could be built in 12 years at a cost of about $18 billion and would be useable by ships of up to 250,000 deadweight tonnage. It would link the Pacific with Lake Nicaragua and the Escondido river which empties into the Caribbean at the port of Bluefields.

   Bolanos stressed that the project would complement the expanded Panama Canal rather than compete against it.

   Maersk Line’s latest generation 14,800-TEU ships, “Emma Maersk” and “Estelle Maersk,” the biggest containerships in operation, at 56 meters wide, would be too big to use the third set of locks proposed for the Panama Canal in 2014-2015, which are only scheduled to be 55 meters wide.

   “It is not only feasible but it is necessary,” said Bolanos to ministers from more than 30 countries. “The galloping increase in world business demands another canal in addition to a widened Panama Canal.”

   Panama’s referendum will be held Oct. 22.

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