Stigler Gorge water project nears completion amid concerns

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Construction of a water project in Tanzania which is part of the initial preparations for the development of a huge hydroelectric project in the country is nearing completion, minister for Water and Irrigation, Professor Makame Mbarawa has said.

Mr Mbarawa says that the Stigler Gorge water project is 80% complete and is expected to be operational by mid August. Upon completion the water project will have the capacity to produce 209,000 litres of water per day.

“The water project will supply the contractor and the team at the Rufiji Hydroelectricity site with clean water and the amount of water required.’’ Said Mr Mbarawa.

The project is being implemented through the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) and a Chinese company, China Henan International Cooperation Group Co Limited, is undertaking the construction as a supplement of the ongoing mega water project in Kisarawe District.

Completion of the water project will pave way for construction of the Stigler Gorge hydroelectric project to start in earnest.

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But environmentalists are opposed to the hydroelectric project saying it threatens the ecosystem of the Sealous Game reserve thereby endangering animals like lions and rhinos. The hydro-electric project will be located at the heart of the Selous Game Reserve a Unesco world heritage site.

The World Bank has also raised its objection to the project’s construction saying it will create severe water shortages in the Selous Game Reserve to the detriment of the flora and fauna in the area.

In a recent report, the World bank notes that the demand for water in some of the areas where the government is planning to construct hydropower facilities such as Rufiji, Nyasa, Rukwa and Lake Victoria basins already exceeded supply.

“The location of the projects (upstream or downstream) makes it difficult for the projects to be sustainable,’’ reads the report in part.

However, in June this year, President John Magufuli said the project would go on as planned with the tender for the construction of the project being set for end of August. The project is estimated to cost approximately US $4Bn. This is according to Brazil’s Odebrecht, which signed an MoU with the Rufiji River Basin Authority (Rubada) in July 2012 for the development of the project.