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French firm wins $300m Kariba Dam contract

By Bridget Mananavire

A French company — Razel BEC — has been granted a $300 million contract to rehabilitate the Kariba plunge pool and flood gates in order to stop the dam’s wall from collapsing.

The current water level is the lowest since the dam was completed in 1958

The project — funded by the European Union, World Bank, African Development Bank, the Swedish government and the Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) — is set to begin in May, with three years to complete the plunge pool and eight to refurbish the floodgates.

Refurbishment of the plunge pool, where water from the flood gates falls into, will stop the dam wall from breaking, a development that threatens the lives of about three million people who live downstream of the Zambezi River.

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ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the work will address the safety deficiencies of the plunge pool.

“This will allow the dam to spill using all the six gates instead of the current . . . three.

“This alone will ensure that the dam is operated in a safe manner that will allow for the maximum amount for power generation to be to be stored as well as guaranteeing the safety of the millions of people inhabiting the downstream,” he said.

About 300 000 tons of rock will be excavated from the plunge pool to increase the surface area.

The idea of refurbishing the Kariba Dam wall and plunge pool was mooted in 2009 when Zimbabwe and Zambia council of ministers approved the mobilisation of funds for the project.

EU head of delegation to Zambia Alessandro Mariani said the Kariba Dam rehabilitation project was part of the Zambia-EU partnership in the energy sector aimed at improving access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.

“The technical preparations for the rehabilitation of the plunge pool, which is part of the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project, began in 2013 and with the signature of the works contract  we have reached an important milestone having successfully completed the tendering process which saw a strong competition amongst a selected number of highly qualified companies at the international level,” Mariani said.

“Reshaping the plunge pool will lead to an increase in efficiency and an improved capacity to dissipate the energy generated by the so called spilling events.

“The contractor, Razel BEC, who will be supervised by a ZRA project management team, is due to be on site in the coming weeks and months.”

The dam which was commissioned in 1960 provides both Zambia and Zimbabwe with water for electricity generation. Daily News