Dodoma — Construction of supporting infrastructure for the proposed 2100-megawatt Stiegler's Gorge hydroelectric project on the Rufiji river is about to be completed.
Completion of the basic infrastructure would signify the beginning in earnest of constructing the reservoir dam and main project just as soon.
This was revealed to Energy minister Medard Kalemani in Dodoma by the special committee that was set up to supervise implementation of the supporting infrastructure works.
Committee chairman Juma Iddi told the minister that construction of some of the supporting infrastructure has already been completed, while the rest is in the final stages of construction.
In this regard, the already constructed supporting infrastructure is the Msamvu-Pangawe and Dakawa-Selous power transmission line, the Pangawe power sub-station and water supply facilities.
Responding, the minister commended the committee members for the good work - even as he challenged them to ensure that the supporting parts of the grand project are completed as scheduled. This is to enable the main contractor to start construction of the main project, including the reservoir dam.
Energy permanent secretary Hamisi Mwinyimvua reiterated the call on the supervising committee to ensure that the job is done timely and to perfection.
For his part, the commissioner for Renewable Energy at the ministry, Mr Innocent Luoga, named the project-supporting infrastructure as including electricity and water supply facilities, as well as roads, a railway, an airstrip, a health centre, a communications system and office facilities.
The government has been considering establishing a power station at the Stiegler's Gorge since the 1960s - and, when becomes commissioned, it will be the largest power station in Tanzania.
The 134-metre arched, concrete dam will create a water reservoir that is 100 kilometres long, measuring 1,200 square kilometres with the capacity to hold 34 billion cubic metres of water.
An Egyptian state-owned contractor, Arab Contractors, has been chosen to design and build a 2.1GW power dam on the Rufiji river.
The proposed Stiegler's Gorge dam, which would be equal in generating capacity to the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, currently the largest in Africa, has been under discussion since the 1960s.
However, the currently ongoing project began in August 2017, when the Tanzanian government began advertising for bids.
When he announced the project in August last year, President Magufuli dismissed concerns about the effect it would have on the Selous Game Reserve in which it is located.
"I know various obstacles will emerge, but I urge Tanzanians to have a united stand on the project, since it will only take up three per cent of the Selous Game Reserve area," he said.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the 2,100MW Rufiji Hydropower Project at Stigler's Gorge talked of "recoverable effects", thereby confirming the government's intention to start construction works.
Earlier details are that the contractor will construct a 134-metre-high roller-compacted concrete dam and four saddle dams, with a combined capacity to hold approximately 34 billion cubic metres of water.
In addition, the project will feature a power plant consisting of nine vertical turbine units and generators with a total installed capacity of 2,115MW.
Arab Contractors will also construct a 400kV switch yard.