White water rafters oppose US$6bln Batoka Hydro-power Project

By: 
Agencies
Source: 
Lusaka Times & Own Correspondent

THE Zambezi river authority (ZRA) has revealed that the proposed building of the Batoka Hydro-electric Scheme across the border Zambia and Zimbabwe has been met with anger from white water rafters operating in the area.

In April this year, the two countries appointed the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group as lead coordinator for the 2,400-MW hydropower project, which is estimated to cost US$6 billion.

The project is being constructed by the ZRA, which develops, operates, monitors and maintains hydropower projects along the Zambezi River shared by the two Southern African countries

River authority chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa says those operating on the water rapids have built websites to fight the project.

He told a media briefing at Livingstone’s protea hotel Wednesday that his firm will find a better way of dealing with those opposing the project.

Engineer Munodawafa emphasized that this was the third time the project was being stopped since 1993 and has urged those opposing it to consider the benefits.

Meanwhile, the ZRA chief also insisted that they would not disturb the water rafter’s activities on the river.

Munodawafa notes that water rafting companies usually have an operational peak season on the river, which the river authority will not disturb.

He explained that Zambia and Zimbabwe ministers of energy, who are directors on the project, have since been informed of the report but said better mitigation measures must be found for everyone’s benefit.

Zambia's finance minister Felix Mutati, said constructing the facility would create jobs.

“During the construction phase, 6,000 jobs will be created and a further 1,200 permanent green jobs during the operational phase, split equally between [Zambia and Zimbabwe],” Mutati said.

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