THE Kariba Dam has developed serious structural damage that require urgent attention to avert possible collapse that would result in economic and humanitarian crisis in sub-region, says Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda
He said at least US$5 billion would be required to reconstruct a new dam if the current one was allowed to collapse.
Mr Chikwanda was speaking on Friday at the signing ceremony for the US$ 294 million financing of the Kariba Dam rehabilitation Project in Siavonga District.
He said the two governments, Zambia and Zimbabwe, had over the past years been concerned about the safety of a vast number of people following reports of cracks in the Kariba Dam wall.
He said the damage to the wall had left thousands of Zambians, Zimbabweans as well as downstream the Zambezi River, in Malawi and Mozambique worried about their safety and livelihoods.
The Minister stressed that Kariba Dam wall was not only a symbolic bridge between sister countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but also an economic structure that generated hydro-power for the sub-region with an installed generation capacity of 1350 megawatts
“It is no longer a secret that the Kariba Dam has suffered serious structural damage and failure to revive it would result in consequences that are too ghastly to contemplate.
“Inaction in this regard will result in economic and humanitarian crisis in the sub-region, these will include immediate humanitarian crisis along the Zambezi River downstream of the Kariba Dam that could seriously affect the Cabora Bassa Dam with devastating flooding of the low lying areas in Mozambique and Malawi,” warned Mr Chikwanda.
And European Union Ambassador to Zambia, Gilles Hervio said the Zambezi river basin was crucial for long term development of the Southern Africa power pool established by SADC to provide a forum for regional solutions to electricity generation emphasising that securing the hydro-power resource was critical to ensuring regional energy security and avoiding blackouts that undermine growth and poverty reduction.
Representatives of the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments, the EU and three other cooperating partners along with representatives of the diplomatic community witnessed the signing of Financing Agreements.
The Kariba Dam rehabilitation will cost $ 294 million supported financially by European Union, the African Development Bank, Sweden, World Bank and Zambezi River Authority.
The rehabilitation will involve the Reshaping of Plunge pool component of the dam so as to preclude any further erosion towards its foundations and will result in the long term integrity of the dam wall .
The rehabilitation will take 10 years to complete.