Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports



Kariba warns that floodgates will open this week

Maputo, 4 February (AIM) - By the end of this week at least one of the floodgates of the Kariba dam, on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, will be opened, which is likely to worsen the current flooding in the Zambezi Valley in central Mozambique.

Kariba is run by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which was set up by the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Under an agreement with Mozambique, any decision to open the Kariba floodgates must be announced at least seven days in advance.

The ZRA issued a brief statement on 31 January that it would open one of the four floodgates. According to Paulo Zucula, the director of the Mozambican government's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), the ZRA has not specified the exact date for opening the floodgate, nor how much water will be released.

The Cahora Bassa dam can hold some of a flood surge from Kariba. Cahora Bassa has some margin for manoeuvre since, as of 31 January, the dam lake was only 64 per cent full (normal for this time of year - precisely in order to leave room for a sudden inflow from upstream).

Over the past few days the water entering the Cahora Bassa lake has been in excess of 10,000 cubic metres per second. Nonetheless, at the weekend the dam cut its discharges into the Zambezi from 5,900 to 4,500 cubic metres a second.

Cited in "Noticias" on 4 February, Zucula warned that if Kariba opens two of its floodgates a series of small towns in the Zambezi Valley hitherto unaffected might be inundated. The INGC, he said, "would have to evacuate many people from the administrative posts and district capitals to places we have not yet identified".

The INGC already has a serious shortage of space in the resettlement areas (partly because this year's flood has already engulfed some of the resettlement areas set up last year, which were not built on high enough ground).

Relief workers continue finding groups of people who ignored the government appeals to abandon low-lying areas and islands in the Zambezi, and who are now completely surrounded by flood waters. About 2,000 families (around 10,000 people) were found in this condition on 1 February in Mutarara, and in Tambara district on the south bank of the river.

The island of Salia, in Chinde district, near the mouth of the Zambezi, is liable to be flooded. The government hopes to rescue by boat anyone still left. However, a boat lent by the Sena Sugar Company for the relief work has now run out of fuel.

As the Zambezi rises ever higher, it is threatening to interrupt the ferry service across the river between Caia in Sofala province, and Chimuara, in Zambezia. The usual ramps used to load vehicles onto the ferry are under water, and so are sets of alternative ramps.

Vehicles are now using a third set of alternative ramps, further upstream, to board the ferry. These are now almost submerged, and now long queues of cars and trucks are building up on both banks of the river.

Further north, flooding on the Licungo river, in Zambezia, has reached Nante, in Maganja da Costa district. At least 766 families in Nante are surrounded by the waters, and need immediate evacuation.

Preliminary figures are that the Licungo flood has destroyed 123 houses in Nante and flooded four schools.

The INGC in Zambezia is now setting up new resettlement centres in Zambezia, for which it requires 500 tents, five tanks of clean drinking water, each with a capacity to hold 5,000 litres, three large tents to serve as schools and four to be used as hospitals.


email: Mozambique News Agency

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