GERD: 30% work over needs 4 more years for completion

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the biggest hydro-power giant in entire African Continent and tenth in the world, is being viewed as the trans-formative phenomenon. It will lift Ethiopia from the scourge of underdevelopment and fast-track economic growth to better every Ethiopians’ tomorrow.
GERD as fondly called is being built in the gorge is located between two districts i.e. Guba on the right and Sirba-Abay on the left in Benishangul-Gumz region, about 40 km east of the border with Sudan. Its height is 145 meter and length 1.8 km.

The dam that straddles the historical river Blue Nile that originates from the highland Gish-Abay, Sekela district from Western Gojjam is expected to generate 6,000MW of electricity by exploiting the river’s flow which has an average water discharge of 1,547cu.m/s. During the peak hour Nile discharges 15000cu.m/s of water and its average flow is 1500cu.m/s.
This huge project comprises mainly of Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam, Saddle Dam, two power houses, a 500-KV switch yard and a spillway. As per the status report, 30% of its completed base work, 10 units (chambers) is being built on its right side and six on the left. It requires four more years to get fully commissioned, said the Senior Site Engineer, Mr Girma Mengistu.
The dams are designed and being built to create a reservoir with the capacity of 74 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of water at full supply level, and covers an area of 1,700 sq. kms, which ultimately will be used for electric power generation.
The excavation, electron-mechanical and hydro-link works are being carried out according to the plan. As of now, 7000 personnel are engaged in the work, in which 300 are expatriates and 6700 locals.
Work of Main Dam: Soil, rock excavation and cart-away of excavated material is in progress both on the right and left bank. Access road to the dam crest has been built on the right bank. Installation of rock supports on the right upper yard is progressing, as well as in central dam.
River Diversion: The diversion work has been completed before eight months ago, its length is about 1.1 km and width of the channel is 120 meters and depth 21 meters.
Saddle Dam: Top soil of the foundation is removed and some excavation such as gallery, drainage channel and trench for plastic diaphragm wall is in progress and several access roads have been constructed both on the right and left side of the river, Mr Mengistu added.
The construction of contractor’s camp & offices is in progress; secondary crushing/batching plant assembling is fully operational especially plants on the right bank and some on the left are also functional whereas main crushing & batching plant procurement is at the site.
The contractor’s logistic installation and construction of workshop and store are temporarily established on the main dam. Crushing Plant, RCC & CVV Batching Plants are fully operational which are on the right bank and some on the left are operational.
Electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure works is in progress and some culverts are being built. Gilgel Beles-GERDP 400KV transmission line and substation works are underway. A 500KV transmission lines that will link at latter stage the generated power from GERD to the national grid is also a project that is being handled with separate contract package.
With the finalization of relevant Environmental Impact Assessment and Resettlement action Plan, the people and the areas are already identified for rehabilitation and preparatory works to start the resettlement program is also well underway.
Ethiopian scholars are of the view that GERD will enable neighboring Sudan to save millions of dollars a year in clearing sedimentation. It will highly reduce the quantity of silt that accumulates in Sudan, enabling Khartoum to save annually up to $20 million.
Sudan Vision report states, the Sudanese agriculture and irrigation minister, Dr Abdulhalim Al-Mutaafi, supporting GERD construction said, ‘‘The dam is a ‘model’ of development in the region. He reiterated it’s better to build dams in Ethiopia rather than in Sudan or Egypt because of topographical reasons.
Substantiating his point further he said, “The level of evaporation in Sudan is higher than in Ethiopia and dam water reservoirs in Sudan and Egypt would be exposed to a higher temperature as they would be in flat lands while in Ethiopia reservoirs are built in deep gorges.”


By Philips Joseph