AN environmental study, commissioned by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND), said Nicaragua's planned US$50 billion canal scheme is "fraught with risks and uncertainties".
The Environmental Resources Management Ltd study, urged the Nicaraguan government to verify that HKND Group, comply with international standards before construction begins.
HKND is controlled by Chinese telecom mogul Wang Jing, who has dodged questions about his financial backers, said Reuters, adding that the canal would give China a major foothold in Central America long dominated by the US.
But the study also said the canal was likely to have a positive impact on Nicaragua, the second-poorest country in Latin America if it follows international standards of protecting biological reserves and assessing earthquakes hazards.
The report was particularly critical of the project's planned five-year timeline, saying it would create "logistical, procurement and workforce challenges".
HKND had planned to start excavation this month but has pushed the start date to early next year, amid planned further studies.
The consultancy also said HKND had not followed transparency standards, including sharing information with about 30,000 people who might have to move from their homes or lose their assets or livelihoods.
The 172-mile (278 kilometre), project to rival the Panama Canal is one of the world's most ambitious infrastructure schemes, but it has met with opposition and doubts about its funding and with its planned 2020 completion.
Source : HKSG.