Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 11th March 2001

Kariba floodgates remain open

Maputo, 11 Mar (AIM) - Attempts to persuade the Zambezi river Authority (ZRA) to close one of the floodgates on the Kariba dam in order to lessen the volume of water flowing into flood- stricken Mozambique have so far proved unsuccessful because of the absence of the top ZRA official from key meetings held in Lusaka.

HCB, the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam in Tete province, has shut one of the Cahora Bassa floodgates. The giant dam has eight floodgates: four are fully open, and a fifth had been half open. This gate was closed on Friday, in order to mitigate the flooding on the lower Zambezi.

The Mozambican authorities hoped to persuade ZRA to shut one of the three Kariba floodgates that are currently open, in order to reduce the pressure on Cahora Bassa.

According to sources contacted by AIM on Sunday, a joint delegation from the National Water Board (DNA) and from HCB visited Lusaka on Friday to discuss the matter with the ZRA. ZRA technical staff agreed with the proposal to shut a Kariba floodgate - but said they had no authority to do so. The authority lay with the ZRA Chief Executive Office, Dr. Tumbarre, and he was not present at the meeting. So in effect, the Mozambican delegation left Lusaka empty handed.

Subsequent attempts by Mozambican officials to telephone Dr Tumbarre, to press on him the urgency of closing a floodgate, have met with noting but silence.

According to the DNA, the Cahora Bassa lake is now completely full, and there is a rough balance between the water entering the lake and the water discharged from the dam floodgates.

As of Saturday, Cahora Bassa was discharging 8,400 cubic metres of water a second (and not 6,400 as stated erroneously by the Maputo daily "Noticias"). Around 8,400 metres is also entering the dam lake from Zambia and Zimbabwe.

If Kariba can close a floodgate, this would allow Cahora Bassa to reduce its discharges somewhat, thus lessening the amounts of water descending on critically flooded regions on the lower Zambezi. (AIM)

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