Nicaragua’s $40bn canal to be built by 12,500 Chinese

Nicaragua’s $40bn canal to be built by 12,500 Chinese

The plan produced by Hong Kong-based HKND Group, which has been given the concession to build and operate the canal, says that only half the workers will come from Nicaragua due to the “very limited highly skilled workforce readily available” in the country.

It predicts that the final quarter of workers will come from other countries. However, The Grand Inter-oceanic Canal of Nicaragua will create more employment opportunities for Nicaraguans, at least 50,000 direct jobs in the five years of construction.

“An estimated average annual workforce of approximately 50,000 employees is anticipated during the 5-year construction period,” according to the report. 

“HKND anticipates that up to 50 percent of the workforce would be recruited from within Nicaragua. It is likely, however, that a core contingent of experienced personnel (e.g., management staff, training personnel, selected equipment operators) would be required to be employed on an expatriate basis, with about 25 percent from China and 25 percent from other countries.”

HKND Group said it would propose in advance the employment needs according to the Project process, to facilitate the timely training, education and certification of the unions, so that they can keep pace with the progress of the Project.

The report indicates that Spanish-speaking heavy-machine operators from the Americas and beyond would be recruited to give extensive training for Nicaraguan workers.

HKND will limit the hiring of Nicaraguans to designated recruitment centres in a few regional centres like Managua, Rivas, Nueva Guinea, and Bluefields to stop job seekers flocking to construction sites, where the company said no hiring would take place.

Work on the controversial canal officially started on 22 December with renovations to an access road near Rivas in the west of the country. Full excavation work will not begin until the third quarter of this year, the company said.

The Nicaraguan government says the canal, which it says will cost no less than $40bn, will bring transformational economic growth. HKND Group is organising funding for the mega-project but has yet to disclose the identities of the investors.

Protesters who fear their land will be expropriated along the canal route blocked roads in at least two locations in Nicaragua to mark the start of construction, leading to arrests.

Scientists and environmentalists say that the dredging of a 90-km channel in Lake Nicaragua to facilitate the passage of huge, “Super Post Panamax” ships will damage the country’s freshwater ecosystems.

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