Completion of Ethiopia’s controversial 1870 Mega Watts Gibe III hydroelectric power project is likely to be postponed by a year because of construction and environmental issues.
An expert at the Ministry of Water and Energy told newbusinessethiopia.com that the project which was originally planned to be completed by the end of 2013 is likely to delay by one year due to its reservoir missing seasonal water intake target and behind schedule of the Roller Compact Concrete works.
Latest news reports from the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporations show that Ethiopia, which is currently experiencing power shortage, could face a shortage of some 200 MW electric power next year.
Government says So far the project has finished 71 percent of its total. When finished, Gibe III, which is located in the Southern part of the country is expected to help Ethiopia’s plan to export up to 400 MW of electricity to Eastern Africa’s economic power house Kenya by 2016.
It’s also the third in line of projects to be built on the Omo River or its tributaries with previous projects finished on the river being the 184 MW Gibe I project and the 360 MW Gibe II project. There also plans by the government once Gibe III is finished to build Gibe IV and V dam projects on the river.
However the project has been dogged by allegations from International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like Survival International and International Rivers that it will led to forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of tribal people in Southern Ethiopia and north western Kenya.
They have also expressed worry that the project together with the newly started Mega sugar project named Kuraz could lead to the dramatic drop in Lake Turkana, the World’s largest desert lake by up to 22 meters leading to the destruction of much of its aquatic life.
Lake Turkana which is almost completely located in Kenyan borders except its northern tip is the final destination place for Omo River.
The Government of Ethiopia denies charges that Gibe III dam project will led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people or that the tribal people in southern Ethiopia have been subjected to intimidation and violence.
It further states that the project will guard and control against seasonal floods caused by the overflowing of the Omo river and that its own studies have shown that there’s little to no chance of the dam project affecting the content of Lake Turkana.
The civil work is currently being undertaken by the Italian Firm Salini Costruttor while the electro mechanical work is being done by a Chinese firm Dongfnag Electric International Corporation. The project’s total cost is excepted to reach 1.47 billion Euros by the end of its commissioning.