As you can see, I do a few transits of the Panama Canal each year, and I am expected to know something about the canal and answer passengers’ questions while I am on-board… and lots of questions even after I leave the ship.
One of the big questions I get asked a lot these days is, “What about the other canal… the one in Nicaragua?” At least the one on the drawing boards as of last December. There has been a lot of talk and articles written and pronouncements made, and even a few protests… so what’s the deal? Is it going to happen? And if so, will it put the Panama Canal out of business?
And since my crystal ball is in for repair, my best guess is, “Maybe,” to all the above. Clearly the canal through Nicaragua has been talked about for over one hundred years, and the route is feasible. But just because you can, doesn’t make it happen. The costs for the new canal is estimated at over fifty billion dollars, and that is very conservative. With capital equipment investments, and other “unkown” costs, the number could be double the original numbers. Running over original estimates is a theme played out in many Central American efforts… jungle, geology, bugs, and stuff do mess up schedules.
Bottom line: If the new canal even looks like it will become a reality, the Panamanians have a response… the fourth lane through the current canal. The costs for that effort would be a fraction of the cost for the Nicaraguan canal, and then it would be a race to the bottom for competitive rates… real competition for the shipping dollars.
And that is my two cents worth of comments.