Addis Ababa — Eight years after it was launched, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached an average of 66.24 percent and over 12.4 billion Birr was collected from the public.
GERD Project Manager, Eng. Kifle Horo told ENA through phone that the project is well in progress.
"Eighty-one percent of the dam and 82 percent of overall civil works [main dam, saddle dam and the spillway] of the project have already been executed. 94 and 99 percent of the saddle dam and the spillway, respectively are completed."
The electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure work, which was conducted by the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), is the one that are lagging behind. It is now at 23 percent.
The project, which was expected to be finalized in 2017, needed extra four years to be completed due to the poor performance in the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure work.
Construction of the dam was awarded to Salini Impregilo for 4.8 billion USD, while the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure work awarded to METEC.
The government has terminated the contract with METEC in 2018 and signed with foreign contractors to resume electromechanical and hydraulic steel structures work.
"Now the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structures are at 23 percent and were transferred from METEC in full contract to other contractors, seven contracts were signed and all have started mobilization while two have started physical work," he added.
The Ethiopian government has launched the project in 2011 intending to fund the entire cost of the 4.8 billion USD dam by itself through mobilization of domestic resources.
To realize this, it has issued a bond targeted at Ethiopians in the country and abroad.
Communication Director at the Office of National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the GERD, Hailu Abraham said over 12 billion Birr was collected from the public so far.
"Since the start of GERD there was huge public participation, over 4.51 billion Birr was collected in the first two years. Then we collected one billion Birr in average each year, the total amount reaching 12.4 billion Birr now," he added.
More that 484 million Birr was collected over the last six months, which many people get frustrated as reports came that some of the money raised for the dam was not spent on the project, Hailu Abraham added.
"There was fluctuation of public participation and upheavals due to gaps and problems during the construction process. So we informed the public every problem and its solution in various stages. We held five stages from December to date with stakeholders in order to revive their participation. So peoples' trust is reviving and are becoming part of the solution," he noted.
Information about the GERD has been concealed for many years but "we will be accountable to tell every progress on GERD for the people from now on," he stated.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is being built along the Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, about 15 km east of the border with Sudan.
At 6.45 gigawatts, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa, and the 7th largest in the world, when completed.