The Panama Canal may be getting a neighbor just two countries to the north. According to the Associated Press, the Nicaraguan government is moving forward with a plan that would construct a canal holding twice the capacity of Panama's, aimed at bridging the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Nicaragua's government has yet to finalize the construction plans, but the canal would be completed in about 11 years and will almost certainly be routed through Lake Nicaragua, a large body of water on the western side of the country.
Details are surprisingly vague
Construction of a cross-country canal will cost about $40 billion. Nicaragua is hoping that the waterway can capture 4.5 percent of the world's shipping traffic, allowing the country to make up the cost through usage fees. But beyond reclaiming money, The Guardian suggests that a Nicaraguan canal would help the country to weaken US' dominance over shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific. The project will be financed and built by the recently formed Chinese group HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company — that company will later be payed back by Nicaragua, ultimately turning complete control of the canal and its facilities over to the country after about 50 to 100 years.
Though Nicaragua seems set on making the deal happen, some lawmakers are concerned about the lack of finalized details. The AP notes that even major aspects of the canal — such as the general path that it would take through the country — haven't been nailed down yet, and not everyone is comfortable with entrusting a new company with such a large contract. Similar plans to create a canal across Nicaragua have been around for over 100 years, but now with support of the country's legislature and president, it looks like the plan could finally start to move into action.
Update: The article has been amended with the name of the company contracted to finance the Nicaraguan canal.