Construction of US $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme to begin

Construction of US $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme to begin

Construction of the US $4.5bn Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) in Southern Africa is set to begin soon. The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) revealed the report and said that on-going Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is set to be complete to pave way for the implementation of the project.

A consortium of Chinese and U.S. companies has already been awarded the tender to build the 2,400MW hydropower plant under a Build, Operate and Transfer funding model. Power generated from the plant will be shared equally by Zimbabwe and Zambia under ZRA.

The Batoka Gorge hydroelectric facility will comprise a roller compacted concrete (RCC) gravity arch dam measuring 720m-long and 181m-tall, and two 1,200MW surface powerhouses on both sides of the  Zambezi River, each powerhouse with six 200MW hydroelectric turbines.

The catchment area of the reservoir will be 508,000km², while four intakes will be built to send water to both the power plants through 4km-long tunnels. A crest type spillway with 12 radial gates will be constructed to ensure the controlled release of flow from the reservoir. Measuring 13m-tall and 14m-wide, the spillway’s design discharge capacity will be 20,000m³/s.

Upon completion, the cross-border hydroelectric project is expected to generate 10,215GWh of electricity a year, which will be shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe through four proposed overhead transmission lines.

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Illegal registration of workers

ZRA announced that it will give equal job opportunities to citizens of Zimbabwe and Zambia when construction begins. This was after reports emerged that some unscrupulous individuals in Zimbabwe had started “recruiting” personnel for the forthcoming work at a fee.

According to ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa, the said registration is reportedly taking place in some riparian communities within the project area in Zimbabwe.

“People purporting to be recruitment agents appointed by the authority or the developer are illegally registering and collecting monies from unsuspecting members of the public especially those that are resident in Hwange, Jambezi, and other villages and townships. I advise inhabitants of the said riparian communities to be vigilant and guard against such people and report them to law enforcement agencies,” said Munodawafa.

He further added that all employment opportunities, that is, professional, skilled and unskilled will be publicized through the mass media and traditional leadership in the project area when the project construction works approach commencement.

Zambezi River Authority (ZRA)

The Zambezi River Authority Act was passed in 1987 simultaneously in the two states of Zambia and Zimbabwe dissolving the Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO). The authority has the responsibility of the operation and maintenance of Kariba Dam Complex, investigation and development of new dam sites on the Zambezi River and analysing and disseminating hydrological and environmental information pertaining to the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba.