The Chinese company behind Nicaragua’s planned $50 billion interoceanic canal has said it is willing to alter the route so that it bypasses one of the towns whose residents have protested against the project.
HKND Group, led by billionaire Wang Jing (pictured), said it would avoid the town of El Tule even though it would add $700m to the cost of the canal.
In December protesters from El Tule blocked the Managua-San Carlos Highway over concerns that they may be evicted from their land as a result of the gargantuan civil engineering project.
Protests also erupted in June in the central Nicaraguan city of Juigalpa.
Both in the current time and future, we can confirm that the township of El Tule will not be affected by the canal and the town will not disappear– HKND
In February Prof. Jorge Huete-Pérez, vice president of the Academy of Sciences for Nicaragua, told GCR that opposition to the canal is growing because of what he called the government’s secrecy over the project.
But on 26 August HKND said in an emailed statement to news agency Bloomberg that it would now shift the canal route 500m from the centre of El Tule, despite the added cost.
The statement also claimed that surveys in Nicaragua show that more than 78% of Nicaraguans back construction of the 276km waterway.
"Both in the current time and future, we can confirm that the township of El Tule will not be affected by the canal and the town will not disappear," the Hong Kong-based company said.
"After canal construction is completed, everybody will have a better life," HKND said in the statement.
Photograph: Wang Jing, middle, chairman and chief executive of HKND Group, launches construction of the canal in December 2014, with Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, left (HKND Group)