Not terribly much to report. The much ballyhooed access road is indeed under construction, so dirt is flying. But as a project the road is nothing, and as far as we can tell here at TPTM the money so far is coming from Venezuela via the Petrocaribe program. HKND, the company behind the project, says that the environmental impact statements will be coming out at the end of May. Apparently the company ran the statement past a group of academics at Florida International University last month, and those academics had some “doubts.”
The other big news, from yesterday, is that the head of the Panama Canal Authority, Jorge Quijano (pictured here) claimed the following: “I just came from China and builders told me that no state company is interested in financing the project.” But Mr. Quijano is self-interested. I have no doubt that he is telling the truth about what Chinese construction executives told him ... but I have rather more doubt that said executives really know Beijing’s thoughts on the matter. Heck, I doubt that Beijing knows Beijing’s thoughts on the matter.
Weirdly, when asked about the matter, the spokesperson for Nicaragua’s official canal commission claimed, after some harrumphing, “That is, even this week we got German investors, and in the next few days I will travelling to the United States and the whole world is interested in investing in Nicaragua.”
No word on who these German investors were.
For what it is worth, Quijano thinks that a fourth set of locks big enough to accomodate the newest container ships could be built within 15 years for $17 billion. If that estimate is correct, I can’t see how in the name of God anyone can expect HKND to build the Nicaragua Canal in only five.
In short, our official position remains unchanged: as cool as it would be, this project is not going to happen unless the Chinese government gets involved directly.