News reports raised alarm about the stability of the Kariba dam wall on the Zimbabwean side, stating urgent repairs are required to prevent the 128 metres high wall from collapsing. The cause of a potential collapse is structural weaknesses present in the dam wall and dam wall foundation which require urgent maintenance.
A collapse of the Kariba dam wall will affect the two power stations on the Zambezi river, Kariba North and Kariba South which will result in an immediate impact on power supply to Zambia and Zimbabwe (1300 MW currently for Zimbabwe and Zambia). Although this will not have an immediate power supply risk to South Africa, Cahora Bassa and approximately 3.5 million people living downstream of the dam may be severely impacted.
Such a disaster will cause Cahora Bassa to be flooded and with it, potentially the transmission lines supplying South Africa with 1500MW. Controls in place to manage the risk of loss of supply to South Africa are limited: other than the contract that is in place, regular inspections and surveys, special safety surveys and several other instruments in the dam wall are measured for stress, changes or movement in the wall, water pressure and drainage. The risk treatment is to start the dam wall rehabilitation process in 2015 and it is estimated to take at least 6 years.
• How could this potentially impact on South African industry in the region? Have you identified the potential consequences for your organisation/industry?
• What potential humanitarian disaster support and readiness will be required from South Africa? Is there a potential opportunity in our construction/engineering industry to respond to this risk? E.g. construction, funding, project management etc.
• How severe, if any would this impact on the local and international tourism trends in the Southern African region?
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