VICTORIA FALLS, September 30 (The Source) – The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has completed a $2.5 million access road linking Victoria Falls to the site for the proposed $3 billion Batoka Gorge Hydro Electricity Power Station, a key step towards work on the 1,600MW power project being developed jointly with Zambia.
Addressing journalists during a weekend media tour of the Batoka Gorge, ZRA spokesperson Elizabeth Karonga said the ZRA had launched the tendering process for an environmental impact assessment of the project.
She said the authority was not expecting challenges from environment and social impediments since the area earmarked for the project was not populated with minimal animal movement from the site.
“We expect the project to commence at the end of next year and would take seven years to be completed,” she said.
Karonga said construction of the connecting road on the Zambian side was still in progress, adding that the road projects showed the commitment by the two partners to get started on the power station.
ZRA hydrology technician Samuel Mwale said once completed, the plant would add significant power to alleviate power shortages in the both countries.
“The dam completion would see the generation of 1,600 MW, that is, 800 MW on the Zimbabwean side and a similar amount on the Zambian side and would result in the both countries receiving quite a significant amount of electricity to alleviate power shortages,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently generating about half of its 2,000MW power demand and is suffering persistent power cuts which have hobbled mines and industry, while households have had to endure extensive electricity rationing.
ZRA is a corporate body jointly owned by Zimbabwe and Zambia through bilateral agreements to co-manage the shared stretch of the Zambezi River as well as Lake Kariba and its attendant infrastructure.