Works at the Julius Nyerere Hydro-Power Project (JNHPP) in Rufiji River, also known as the Stiegler’s dam project, are now at advanced stage, and concentrated on fixing the delicate but crucial machinery to get the dam ready for power generation. The project is 62.7 percent complete.
Recently, engineers installed the draft tubes at the basement of the ninth turbine that will evacuate water from the power generation machines. The concrete slab of the base of the dam is only 42.7 metres above sea level and will supports 27 turbines that are yet to be installed. The works now are for strengthening the concrete walls for water tunnels and the final installation of the draft tubes before the turbines are fixed, ready for the power generating machines to be tested.
The dam’s turbines individually have a capacity to generate 235 megawatts and in total, JNHPP will generate 2,115 MW to be added on the national grid, and a surplus to be sold to neighbouring countries. Johari Kashwamba of the national utility under which the dam falls, told The EastAfrican that the works are now a 24-hour operation to meet the April 2022 deadline, preceeded by the filling dam in November. Over 32.3 billion litres of water will collect behind the dam and in June 2022, full operations are expected with first supply of electricity to the country.
Energy Minister Dr Medard Kalemani recently inspected the construction work in company of visiting Egyptian Works Minister Assem Gazzer. The dam is being built by a consortium of Elsewedy Electric and Arab Construction, both from Egypt
But the JHNNP has not been without controversy. When the project was first commissioned, international environmental conservationists decalred it an ecological disaster, a threat to wildlife especially the black rhinoceros and elephants. Also about 2.6 million trees were felled to pave the way for the construction. Situated in the world famous Selous Game Reserve, which is home to a wealth of flora and fauna, it has been widely criticised for its large-scale destruction of the game reserve as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Two months ago, Selous survived being struck off the Unesco List when the government defended the project that affordable electricity is important to the economic growth.