Zimbabwe dam wall at risk of collapse

Posted Feb 15, 2012 by Amanda Payne
Kariba dam, on the Zambezi river between Zimbabwe and Zambia, was built in the late 1950's to provide hydro-electric power. Now it seems the dam wall on the Zimbabwean side is cracking and is in danger of collapsing.
Kariba dam wall photographed from the Zimbabwean side
Kariba dam wall photographed from the Zimbabwean side
Rhys Jones
The dam is one of the largest in the world, according to a report in The Zimbabwean on Feb. 15, at 128 metres tall and 579 metres long. On Monday Feb 13, the Minister for Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe, Elton Mangoma, said in a parliamentary committee meeting, that the wall on the Zimbabwe side needs to be anchored to stop it collapsing.
"I repeat that the wall on the Zimbabwean side is weak and requires anchoring and this is being attended to.It is something that is high on the agenda because without the dam wall you really have nothing,"
He told the committee that the Kariba Hydro Power Station currently generates between 735 megawatts and 750 megawatts.
Meanwhile on the Zambian side, one of the generators is to be shut for fourteen days for maintenance work, according to a report in the Lusaka Times. The power company, Zesco, said the shut down would affect it's ability to produce power for the national grid, with demand outstripping supply. A spokesman for the company, Bestty Phiri said:
"The power deficit would necessitate load-shedding in order for the company to balance the generation capacity with demand."
Victoria Falls Guide website says that Lake Kariba is 226 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide at its widest points. The lake is a very popular tourist attraction with incredible scenery, plentiful wildlife and, arguably, the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
At the time that the dam was built, thousands of people from the Tonga tribe were forced to move from their homes to make way for the water. Many animals were trapped as the waters began to rise and 'Operation Noah' led by Rupert Fothergill saw over six thousand animals, from the giant elephants down to small birds and even snakes being rescued from islands and moved to what is now known as the Matusadona National Park.
If the dam wall should burst, the devastation the flood waters would cause is incalculable with its effects being felt all the way down the river to Mozambique.