Minister tasks four regions to protect Rufiji river catchments

10Sep 2019
The Guardian Reporter
RUFIJI
The Guardian
Minister tasks four regions to protect Rufiji river catchments

ENERGY Minister Dr Medard Kalemani has called on local leaders and residents of regions contributing tributaries of Rufiji River to come up with better strategies that will sustain water flows into the river in the wake of the 2115-MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power project.

Visiting the hydro-power project, Dr Kalemani noted that rising economic activities along the water sources negatively impacts the catchment environment and lifespan of rivers, thus the regions and districts need to find out how to conduct their activities with caution.

He said that authorities in the regions should enforce laws to ensure that the water sources are well protected and the residents be guided and empowered to protect the environment.

“Rufiji River should not be allowed to lose substantial amounts of water as that would harm the hydro-power project, so authorities have to ensure that by-laws are enforced to protect catchment areas from being damaged,” he said.

The government cannot in its own manage to protect the breadth of the catchment zone and needs to conserve the environment with support from local governments and private sector stakeholders, he said.

Project implementers, Egyptian firms Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric Co. have completed the drilling and construction of a tunnel for draining out water in the project site.

He said the project supervisors and employees of various categories should observe patriotism by ensuring due diligence and redoubled efforts for best results.

“The ongoing activity is to construct two walls to enable water diversion,” he said, speaking about a portion of the current phase of the project that has five days to be completed.

The minister urged the constructors to work day and night to make sure that the project is completed within the scheduled timeframe.

“You have to work tirelessly to ensure that you hand over the project on June 14, 2022...work hard to produce a quality project,” the minister intoned.

He said the hydroelectric power project is among pioneer programmes that are expected to make a considerable contribution in the government’s goal to industrialize the economy.

“The completion of the project will solve a number of address challenges especially power cuts thus assuring industrialists enough power supply to run factories unhindered. This will also attract more investors to come into the country,” he said.

Availability of stable power supply will not only stimulate economic activities but also attract social engagements that supplement employment opportunities.

Dr Kalemani underscored the need for people in surrounding areas to be prioritized in obtaining employment opportunities.

The project’s supervisor, Stephen Manda said the project was progressing well, including the construction of a bridge across the river to ease the ferrying of construction materials.

Similarly, expansion of the railway port at Fuga area was also complete, in which case the contractor can use the railway to transport materials and equipment, he said, pointing out that the project had so far employed 1151 people, where 822 are locals and 296 are foreigners.

For his part, Morogoro Regional Commissioner Dr Kebwe Stephen Kebwe said that the government will make sure that more locals surrounding the project area secure jobs in the project.