Covid-19 Holds Back Kariba Dam Revamp By Two Years

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

COMMENCEMENT on the rehabilitation work on Kariba Dam wall and spillway to improve its safety and increase the dam’s lifespan has reportedly been delayed by the prolonged Covid-19 induced lockdown.

The Council of Ministers, which includes Energy and Finance ministers from both Zimbabwe and Zambia, last week held a virtual meeting where it was noted that work on revamping the dam wall and spillway was put on ice.

“Early delays in contracting the works were compounded by unforeseen technical challenges and more recently, supply constraints due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

“This will result in a cumulative delay of two years. Notwithstanding the delays, it remains possible to complete the KDRP (Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project) project within the timeframe due to primarily the modified designs of the spillway refurbishment,” said Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) in a communique issued Wednesday.

ZRA said the Council of Ministers recognised that the Kariba Dam rehabilitation project was a complex and very essential initiative with the objective of improving the safety and increasing the lifespan of the dam.

Also in the spotlight was the numerous projects to be rolled out under the Zambezi Valley Development Fund (ZVDF).

“…As part of an ongoing effort to improve the well-being of the communities that were displaced during the construction of the Kariba Dam, various projects have been implemented in the areas of irrigation schemes, water supply, health facilities and education which included housing for teaching staff and health workers,” further reads the ZRA statement.

The Council of Ministers noted progress that has been made to date and commended ZRA for the sterling efforts.

The indaba also saw the ministers approving ZRA’s 2021 annual budget totalling US$71, 298, 329.

The budget will be financed through a combination of internally generated funds and amortised loans and grants sourced from cooperating partners comprising of the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Among other issues, the meeting saw the rotational chairpersonship shifting from Zimbabwe’s energy minister Soda Zhemu to Zambia’s Mathew Nkhuwa who occupies the same portfolio.

The role is rotated annually.