It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — A proposal to build a massive rival to the Panama Canal across the middle of Nicaragua was overwhelmingly backed by lawmakers Thursday, capping a lightning-fast approval process that has provoked deep skepticism among shipping experts and concern among environmentalists.
The National Assembly dominated by President Daniel Ortega's leftist Sandinista Front voted to grant a 50-year concession to study, then possibly build and run, a canal linking Nicaragua's Caribbean and Pacific coasts to a Chinese company whose only previous experience appears to be in telecommunications.
Despite the global crisis, which affected international trade, the canal only saw small declines in traffic during fiscal year 2009. The total number of transits reached 14,342, which was a 2.4 percent fall from fiscal year 2008.Their combined tonnage fell by 3.3 percent to 299.1 PC/UMS (Panama Canal / Universal Metric System).
Toll revenues grew despite the fall because the ACP implemented new tariffs.
The 96-year old canal is undergoing a $5.2 billion expansion program that will allow bigger ships to transit the waterway, starting in 2014.
The project will:
Build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides.
Each will have three chambers with water-saving basins.
Excavate new channels to the new locks.
Widen and deepen existing channels.
Raise Gatun Lake's maximum operating level.
Critics of the project contend there are many environmental topics to be considered, such as the link between El Niño (ENSO) and global warming's threat to water supplies.