Chinese company says Nicaragua canal to generate 25,000 jobs for locals, 25,000 for foreigners

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua — A planned $50 billion transoceanic canal across Nicaragua will create jobs for 25,000 Nicaraguans and 25,000 more for foreigners, says the Chinese company granted a concession to build and operate the waterway.

In a new report posted on its website, HKND Group said half of the latter figure would be for Chinese workers and the rest for other nationalities. Estimates of 50,000 jobs directly related to the canal have been around for months, but officials had previously not broken down how many would be for Nicaraguans.

Jose Adan Aguerri, president of the Nicaraguan Council of Private Enterprise, said it has been clear from the beginning that the country lacks the ability and expertise to carry out a project of this magnitude on its own.

"Therefore one needs to understand that this kind of project is going to require contracting foreign labor," Aguerri said.

HKND projected a completion date in early 2020 and said the canal could be up and running as early as June of that year.

President Daniel Ortega's government says it is confident the waterway, intended to compete with the Panama Canal to the south, will stimulate a sluggish economy and reduce unemployment that is running over 40 percent.

But the plan has come under fire from the political opposition, ecologists who warn of irreversible environmental damage and villagers who have protested against expected property seizures.

Some experts call the project financially unfeasible and express doubt it will ever get built despite groundbreaking last month on roads related to the construction.

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