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Nicaragua launches Road Network Master Plan

An ambitious new highway construction plan calls for the build out of 4,000 miles of roads in the next 20 years.

Following an extensive preliminary study, Nicaragua's Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (MTI), together with a pair of consortia from the Republic of Korea, presented a Road Network Master Plan earlier this month. 

As it stands, the plan is set to be carried out based on recommendations from a study conducted by the PEC Pyunghwa and Korea Expressway consortia.

“We have united in a mission with the Republic of Korea to help us realise our Master Road Plan, which is a derivation of the National Transport Plan and the Plan for Human Development, programs that help determine where and how to invest in the development of the population in socioeconomic terms,” said Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Amadeo Santana at an event announcing the study's completion.  

Among other projects, the plan calls for the enhancement of the Ticuantepe-San Judas-Nejapa road network in an effort to reduce traffic congestion around Managua, Santana said. 

“The road master plan indicates that we need to establish priorities in four segments that are new constructions in the rural and urban sectors, [and to strengthen] connectivity to the Caribbean coast [including] Bluefields. We must rehabilitate, pave, and build 4,000 miles of roads in the next 20 years.”

Korean Deputy Director of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) Jeong Gwon-il said that the studies conducted were based on his nation's experience with road construction.

“This master plan aims to systematically show a conceptual idea of Nicaragua's road network. We will also conduct a pre-feasibility study of the highest priority projects mentioned.”

While the possibility of public-private partnerships (PPPs; P3s) being utilised for related project tenders was not discussed, passage of investor-friendly legislation earlier this month by the National Assembly suggests such opportunities may be on the horizon.

According to a statement from the National Assembly, the first chapter of the four-part Law on Financial Investment Companies was passed just shy of unanimously, with 88 votes in favour. The bill is meant to encourage domestic and foreign investment through the creation of mutual funds for the purpose of funding medium and long-term projects in the energy, real estate, road infrastructure, and municipal development sectors. Executive branch approval is pending.

Still, the US Department of State warns that the investor climate in Nicaragua is fraught with problems such as insufficient arbitration ability, weak governance and widespread corruption.