Almost five years since Kamuzu Barrage Upgrade commenced and the deadline extended seven times the Shire River Basin Management Programme (SRBMP) says the project has been completed and will be commissioned on Monday.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, SRBMP project coordinator Sydney Kamtukule said the $50 million (about K36.5 billion) World Bank-funded barrage and bridge upgrade was meant to extend the life span of the facility.
The project was ranked as the highest priority in the National Water Resources Investment Strategy study government carried out in 2011.
“The upgrade will extend the operational life of the barrage and effectively and efficiently support its key functions such as regulating water flows downstream to meet needs of various stakeholders, regulate water levels upstream to help improve climate resilience and meet environmental and socio-economic needs,” Kamtukule said.
He also said the upgrade will improve weed management to reduce hydropower installation interruptions and enhance traffic circulation and safety by separating road traffic from the gates.
Kamuzu Barrage Upgrade project engineer Tony Nyasulu said the scope of work on the 15-metre precast barrage and bridge included construction of a new bridge parallel to the existing one, weed boom replacement, removal of existing barrage gates and replacing them with automatically controlled ones to improve efficiency.
When he visited the project last month Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvenka put his foot down to new extension of completion date, saying they [continued deadline extensions] posed negative economic and power generation implications.
“The project deadline has been extended seven times pushing the cost by $8million (from $36.5million to $44.1million) and my appeal to both the mechanical and civil engineering consultants is to finish it by end February,” Mwanamveka said. n