Load shedding to ease, as ZRA completes Kariba dam wall rehabilitation

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Harare (New Ziana) -The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) said on Tuesday it expects work to rehabilitate the Kariba dam wall to be completed at the end of this month, thereby ending its directive for the Zambian and Zimbabwean power utilities to reduce electricity generation.

The rehabilitation project, which is expected to ensure the longevity and long term efficient operation of the dam, commenced in 2017.

In a statement, ZRA said works at the project had reached an advanced stage.

During the last quarter of 2021, the authority requested Zesco Limited of Zambia and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to reduce power generation levels to six hours only on a few selected dates, to facilitate coffer dam construction works under the plunge pool reshaping sub-project of the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project (KDRP).

“In doing so, the utilities were expected to implement measures that would mitigate the resulting reduction in power generation levels at Kariba.

“The specific works under the pool reshaping sub-project that called for this need have since advanced and are due to be completed by 25th January 2022, thereby ending the Authority’s request to the two power generation utilities,” it said.

Going forward, the authority said, the remaining works of the KDRP would not result in the two utilities seeing reduced generation levels at their respective Kariba power stations.

“The KDRP is scheduled to be completed by 2024 and is aimed at assuring the long-term safety and reliability of Kariba dam,” said the river authority.

The project scope comprises the reshaping of the plunge pool and the refurbishing of the spillway gates.

The US$294 million project is being funded by the European Union, World Bank, African Development Bank, the government of Sweden, and the ZRA on behalf of the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, through a combination of grants and loans.

Turning to allocation of water in the dam to the two neighbouring countries, the authority said it allocated 45 BCM to be shared equally between Zesco Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company for their respective power generation operations at Kariba during 2022.

“The allocation was, among other factors, informed by the predictions of Normal to Above Normal Rainfall provided by the regional weather and climate experts mentioned above but will be subject to a downward review where the rainfall season turns out to be a drought period to conserve the stored usable water and support power generation operations into 2023,” it said.

Owing to the delayed onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season, the Authority has cautioned the two Power Utilities not to generate at higher levels (currently 550Mw for each Kariba power station) than that associated with the water allocation made for 2022.

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