The Italian construction firm, Salini, last Saturday started filling the Gilgel Gibe dam.
Eng. Azeb Asnake, project manager of Gilgel Gibe III, told The Reporter that the contractor has finalised the basement work on the dam and started filling the dam with a special concrete called roller compacted concrete. “It is a dry mix concrete that is compacted by rollers. That is the kind of material we use to build the Gibe III dam,”Azeb said.
The dam, which will be 246 meter high and have a width of 600 meter, will consume six million cubic meter of concrete. The basement of the dam is, on average, 25 meter deep. It will have seven spillways and the water will flow to the power house from the dam through two tunnels each of which are 1.2-km-long. The power house is designed to house ten turbines.
The Gilbel Gibe III hydor power dam is being constructed 380 km south of Addis in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State. It will have an installed capacity of 1870 MW.
Work on the project commenced in 2007 and the first unit was originally scheduled to launch power generation in September 2012. However, due to a change in the type of the dam this has been postponed to September 2013. First the dam was planned to be a rock-fill dam but was later changed into a roller compact dam.
The dam will have the capacity to hold 14-billion-cubic-meter of water. The artificial lake will cover 200 sq.km. Salini is undertaking the civil work while a Chinese firm, Dong Fan, is responsible for the electro-mechanical and hydro-mechanical work.
The total cost of the project is 1.5 billion euro. The Ethiopian government has so far invested 600 million euro from its own coffers. It has secured USD 470 million from a Chinese state owned bank.
Azeb said that work on the project is going on according to schedule adding that 90 percent of the construction of the tunnels has been finalised. The power house is also under construction. According to the project manager, the project has created jobs for more than 3000 Ethiopians. “Roads have been built, so have a high school and health posts. The local communities are benefiting from the hydro power project. The local people have been employed in the project. And the local communities sell fruits and vegetables to the large number of people working on the project.”
Azeb dismisses the accusations levelled by environmentalists against the project. “The local population has not been displaced due to the dam construction. The place where the dam is built has an elevation of 600 meter. It is a very hot place infested by malaria and people prefer to live on the mountains to this unfriendly environment. So no one has been relocated as a result of the dam’s construction. The reservoir, too, will not affect anyone,” Azeb said.