THE expanded Batoka Gorge power plant is expected to ease pressure on the Kariba Hydro-electric Power Station mainly during winter seasons, with its projected capacity to generate 2 400 megawatts (MW).
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
The shared project between Zimbabwe and Zambia is located on the Zambezi River about 54km downstream of Victoria Falls and upstream of the existing Kariba Dam.
The project, which was approved by the two countries in the 1990s, will produce 2 400MW of electricity and create about 3 000 jobs during the peak of construction work.
Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa told a visiting delegation of Zimbabwean and Zambian legislators on Wednesday that construction will begin next year subject to the availability of funds.
“We have done all the implementation plans and preparatory activities and what is needed is for us to acquire funding. Our budget is $4,5 billion for now and we are optimistic that we will finish by 2021 and that includes construction of a dam, hydro power plant and transmitters,” he said.
Munodawafa said the Batoka Gorge was meant to work hand-in-hand with Kariba Dam, so that the two dams can supply energy regionally.
“This power station will be used mainly to relieve Kariba Hydro Power Station, which is normally constrained when water levels are too low,” he said.
“Zambezi River peaks during winter, that is May, June and July, and that’s when we will maximise its capacity. The river, at that time, flows at 20 000 cubic meters per second and that is a very huge advantage for us because it will be allowing Kariba to increase capacity.”
Munodawafa said a feasibility study had been done and submitted to environmentalists for assessment.
“We have compiled a document with all the planning to do with environmental-social impact, climate change, among all the factors, and the document has been submitted to environmentalists for assessment,” he said.
“We hear that there is a certain falcon that breeds in the river and those are things we need to consider, because it is an offence to destroy our flora and fauna.”
Munodawafa said some villagers along the dam’s proposed catchment area were going to be displaced by the project.
“People that are going to be affected are villagers in Gokwe North, Binga, Hurungwe and Kariba and in Zambia, it will be Sinazongwe and Siavonga, but plans are there for them in terms of resettlement,” he said.
Engineers say the gorge will consist of an 181-metre roller compacted-concrete gravity arch dam wall that impounds a reservoir with a catchment area of 508 000km2.