New Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

In Nicaragua, a Chinese company is busy building what will become one of the world’s largest transoceanic canals. Engineers say it will surpass the nearby Panama Canal in size and capacity.

The Panama Canal is a 77 kilometre canal in Panama for ships, that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The canal is a key conduit for international maritime trade. While the new canal, the Nicaragua Canal, which will pass through a much wider stretch of land, is likely to be more than 250 km long; three times longer than the Panama Canal. It will be wide enough to allow passage by the biggest container ships.

The new project, being the largest in Latin America in 100 years, looks set to break the monopoly of the Panama Canal in Central America maritime transportation.

The Panama Canal opened in 1914. Decades earlier American and British builders had their sights set on creating a transoceanic canal in Nicaragua. But their efforts, including military interventions, failed. The Panama Canal has remained the most important transoceanic system in the hemisphere.

Until now. The Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Group has begun building roads, which will be used to bring heavy digging machinery to the Nicaraguan state of Riva.

This is the location where the Grand Nicaragua Canal will eventually open up to the Pacific Ocean, making way for some of the world’s largest cargo ships to pass through Central America.

Many logistics experts expect a bright future for global shipping and they say by the time the Nicaragua canal is in the place the amount of cargos moving on the world’s oceans will continue to expand.

Over the decades, the size of cargo ships has been growing and global shipping experts expect that trend to continue.

The chief advisor for the Nicaragua Canal says soon many cargo ships will be too large to pass through the Panama Canal.

“Ships owners are moving to bigger ships now, there is no issue about that so we see it as an element in our business line, our business case,” Bill Wild, advisor of Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Dev’t Group, said.

He says it all comes down to greater efficiency.

“The container ships have been getting bigger because unit costs go down as the ship gets bigger,” Bill said.

A leading economist in Nicaragua agrees.

“The transportation system is moving towards larger vessels that is more trade of grains, commodities that require for economies of scale purposes largest vessels. And right now we cannot go through Panama with these larger vessels,” Economist Maria Arana said.

Logistics experts say more and more cargo will cross the world’s vast oceans, and they project that there’ll be plenty of business to keep both the Panama and Nicaragua canals busy full-time.

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