Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 23rd March 2001

High Commissioner praises Zambian restraint

Maputo, 23 Mar (AIM) - The Mozambican high commissioner in Zambia, Cristofa Jamo, has praised the Zambian authorities for their cooperation in the current flood crisis, affecting the Zambezi valley.

According to a dispatch from the Zambia News Agency (ZANA), Jamo on Thursday expressed Mozambique's gratitude for Zambia's restraint in not opening more floodgates at the Kariba dam.

He was reacting to a statement earlier in the week from the Zambian Deputy Minister of Energy, Major Celestino Chibamba, who said that Zambia had taken steps to protect the people of Mozambique from further flooding by just maintaining two floodgates open.

Thr Kariba dam has four floodgates, and had all of them been open, much more water would have poured down the Zambezi into Mozambique, putting greater pressure on the Cahora Bassa dam to release more water.

Jamo said Mozambique was "overwhelmed" by the positive response and cooperation it has received from Zambia.

He said the Zambian government's positive response to pleas not to open all the floodgates showed how much Zambia was prepared to bear the sufferings of the Mozambican people.

On Tuesday, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) had said it was because the company was mindful of the situation in Mozambique that it had only opened two of the Kariba floodgates.

Inside Mozambique, Cahora Bassa continues to release less water than it is receiving - and there is a limit to how long this can continue.

On Thursday, Cahora Bassa was discharging 6,651 cubic metres of water a second, but the amount entering the dam lake (not merely from Kariba, but also from the upstream Zambezi tributaries) was 11,703 cubic metres a second.

With heavy rain continuing in Tete province, the level of the river has risen again at the provincial capital, Tete city. The river, measured at 7.24 metres on Tuesday, rose to 7.41 metres early on Thursday morning, falling back to 7.35 metres a few hours later.

Nonetheless, Tete provincial governor Tomas Mandlate regards the situation as reasonably calm.

According to Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Mandlate told a meeting of the provincial government on Thursday that the immediate emergency of evacuating people from dangerous areas was now over.

"Now it is urgent to find funding for building houses in safer areas for resettling the population", he said. "We have already presented donors with the kinds of construction we want to use to build new neighbourhoods in Mutarara, Zumbo and Changara districts".

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