3.5m in danger as Kariba Dam 'faces collapse'

2014-03-20 12:49
Kariba Dam (Roy Mckenzie, News24)

Kariba Dam (Roy Mckenzie, News24)

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Cape Town – At least 3.5 million people in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia are reportedly in danger amid revelations that the Kariba Dam wall has developed "serious structural weaknesses" and is on the verge of collapsing.

According to News Day, Zambian Finance Ministry permanent secretary Felix Nkulukusa said there was need for Zimbabwe and Zambia to raise $250m to avert a major humanitarian and economic crisis.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) said the dam wall suffered from alkali-aggregate reaction, which induces swelling within the concrete mass.

Nkulukusa said another problem was caused by the spillway that was no longer opening and closing automatically to maintain the required water levels.

Power demands

The report said that while the Zambian government acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its Zimbabwean counterparts were attempting to downplay it.

Nkulukusa told the Zambia Daily Mail that the dam wall risked being washed away if nothing was done in the next three years.

"An unstable foundation can wash away the dam - a potential catastrophe for the 3.5 million people along the Zambezi River mainly in Mozambique and Malawi," Nkulukuswa was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe's Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere, however, said he was not aware of the impending disaster, adding that the dam wall was already going through some repairs.

Zimbabwe and Zambia largely depend on hydro-electric power from Kariba Dam, while Cahora Bassa in Mozambique supplies 40% of the power demands in the Southern Africa region.

Threat to power supply

Cahora Bassa Hydro-power plant in Mozambique would be destroyed if the dam wall is washed away, Nkulukusa said.

The possible collapse of the wall would pose a threat to power supply not only in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but the whole region, the report said.

Thousands of people in Zimbabwe were last month evacuated after torrential rains caused the partial collapse of the Tokwe-Mukosi damin the Masvingo area.

The dam which was still under construction by an Italian company was being developed for water storage and irrigation purposes.

Read more on:    saviour kasukuwere  |  zambia  |  zimbabwe  |  malawi  |  mozambique  |  southern africa

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