A delegation from Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has left for Europe to attend conferences in France and Italy on dam management ahead of the exercise to rehabilitate the country’s Kariba Dam.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are expected to raise close to US$250 million to rehabilitate the dam, which is believed to have developed structural defects to prevent it from collapse.
According to engineers, the dam’s plunge pool, which was originally 10 metres deep, is now 81 metres deep due to erosion from falling water and the increased depth is now threatening the dam wall.
ZRA public relations and communications manager Elizabeth Karonga said in a statement that the delegation, comprising ZRA board members from Zimbabwe and Zambia, will return on May 11 after holding meetings on the Kariba Dam’s performance and attending a conference on flood warning systems.
“Following the concerns on the safety of the Kariba Dam, the ZRA Board is studying the operations of some of the dam operators which have undergone similar experiences,” said Karonga.
“The ZRA Board undertakes study tours to various dam management sites to observe and share best practices in dam construction, maintenance of same and flood management to formulate policies for better management of the Kariba Dam and the development of future dams like the Batoka.
“This experience will be used to strengthen the current Kariba Dam Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) and look at how France has legislated their emergency preparedness plans.”
Karonga said the conference would use the Bimont Dam in France as a case study because of its emergency management system which was developed based on lessons learnt from the failure of the Malpasset Dam which is 100 km upstream.
Karonga said the ZRA Board was expected to revise its EPP policy to incorporate findings of the study tour for immediate implementation.
Zimbabwe and Zambia largely rely on hydro-electric power from Kariba Dam while Cabora Bassa downstream on the Zambezi River in Mozambique supplies 40 per cent of power demands in the Southern African Region.
The Kariba Dam supplies 1,319 megawatts of electricity to parts of both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
— BERNAMA-NNN-NEW ZIANA