22 March 2014

Zimbabwe: ZRA Backtracks On Kariba Collapse Fears

Photo: IRIN
Kariba Dam - One of the world's Biggest Dams Under Threat

THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) on Thursday backtracked on claims early in the week suggesting Kariba Dam wall was facing collapse which would threaten some 3.5 million people in the sub-region.

ZRA officials were quoted saying some $250 million was needed to carry out urgent repairs on the hydroelectric dam bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Kariba is one of the world's largest dams, measuring 128 metres tall and 579 metres long.

However, ZRA later backtracked on the collapse threat, saying there was no need for "alarm" over the issue.

In a short statement, the joint Zambia and Zimbabwe Kariba dam regulatory body said: "We would like to inform the public that comments in the media which said Kariba Dam wall faces collapse were made during a roundtable discussion with co-operating partners.

"Scenarios were presented on what could happen should rehabilitation works not be taken up with urgency. Please, DO NOT BE ALARMED.

"Measures are underway to start the rehabilitation process in the third quarter of the year. The meeting at which these issues were presented was to raise funds for the works to start around September."

NewZimbabwe.com last year visited Kariba Dam on as part of a media fact-finding mission during the dam's March annual gate openings and witnessed cracks that had developed on the dam wall.

Engineers, at the time, ruled out any possible dam wall collapsing although it was clear the cracks were growing.

Construction of the dam wall began in the late 1950s.

Over one million cubic metres of concrete was poured into the 36.6 metre high wall with a thickness of over twenty four metres to sustain the pressure of nearly ten million litres of water passing through the spillway each second.

At the end of 1958, the sluice gates were closed with the maximum level was reached in 1963.

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