Click here to see a typical road.
Nicaragua only recently acquired a boarding tunnel at itís only international airport. Nicaragua has three ports on the Atlantic and three on the Pacific, but there is no road connecting the Atlantic to the populous Pacific coast. And of these 5 ports, only one is capable of handling a wide variety of cargo as well as large ships. One the other hand, the Nicaraguan government is making a strong attempt to procure funds for the creation of new roads, airports, and the expansion of ports and is optimistically anticipating .5 billion dollars in investments.
Several international groups such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank as well as countries such as Venezuela and Denmark are putting forth funds with which to expand Nicaraguaís road infrastructure by creating new rural roads and repairing major existing roadways. Many of these projects are open to international participation. Two very major projects which are being looked into are a road connecting the Pacific and Atlantic coast and a "Dry Canal" railway which would facilitate Atlantic-Pacific cargo transit.
The Nicaraguan government recently declared the Montelimar beach resortís airstrip as an international airport, but the only true one is the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua. An average of 1379 passengers pass through it each day, up quite a bit from previous years and the figure is expected to increase. 7.4 million kilos of cargo flew in and 4.6 flew out over the course of the year. These figures should all increase somewhat due to the Open Skies Agreement which the US recently signed with Nicaragua and to the legislation which the US passed which states that Nicaraguans who were previously illegal aliens could become legal residents. Aleman has made the Puerto Cabezas airport on the Atlantic coast an international airport, as well, but it really isnít yet. The government has plans to improve and modernize the existing airstrips around the country and build new ones, so the next few years could witness a dramatic change in the amount of flights.
Sea transit is definitely the worst of the three. A total of only 380 ships dock a year at Nicaraguaís six ports and traffic has remained more or less steady at 1.6 million tons per year. The minimal increases have been limited to the Corinto Port on the Pacific Coast which is also the largest and best equipped. On limitation to the use of these ports is the fees which reach 50%. Many businessmen state this fact as a major inhibitor to investment in Nicaragua since shippers use the neighboring Honduran or Costa Rican ports which makes the final transportation costs to the buyer four times higher than they would be had the cargo been shipped directly into Nicaragua.
Corinto Port, which is 160 kilometers from Managua and is on the Pacific coast, is the only port on the coast with a gantry crane and is the most modern. It has three warehouses for storage, one of which is refrigerated, and a large dock and deep channel. Sandino Port, which is much smaller, is only 70 kilometers from Managua but the water is only 3.5 meters deep so only small ships can enter its dock. Consequently, most ships anchor two miles out from the port and use the offshore pipeline which Esso installed for petroleum and the portís four barges for solid cargo. The port has minimal facilities which include three small storage areas to store the minimal amount of imports which it receives (it is not used for export). San Juan del Sur Port is basically just a fishing port and the amount of ships has decreased in recent years. Itís short dock and shallow water have allowed it to receive a minimal amount of grain imports, however. It has a few cranes, courtesy of the Danish, and they are in good condition and the bay could be revitalized if the Nicaraguan government succeeds with its hope to build a tourist marina at the beautiful site.
There is a road, in terrible condition, which runs from Managua, on the Pacific, to Rama, about 100 km from the Atlantic. There, a river connects Rama to the Atlantic and there is the Arlen Siu Port. However, itís not really a port--itís just a floating barge out in the river with a long bridge stretching back to the mainland. A small amount of imports from Miami pass through its two warehouses and an even smaller amount of exports go out. The river is limited to boats with a draft of less than four meters, so thereís not much potential for this dock. El Bluff Port sits across the bay from Bluefields, a city at the end of the aforementioned river on the Atlantic coast. The dock here is moderately large and the government is planning to have the port dredged to allow large ships to dock. And the very last port is called Cabezas Port. Itís dock is extremely long, 700 meters, but itís wooden and falling apart. The port is 7 meters deep and has two warehouses, two cranes, and a storage area.