Progress of Our Monument of Unity
Bereket Gebru 12-01-17
These are probably one of the most trying times for Ethiopian Federalism as the ethnic and linguistic based administrative system is faced with the toughest of its challenges yet. Credited with its constructive steps towards ensuring equality between nations and nationalities, the Federal system has helped build Ethiopian unity based on the will of nations.
However, recent developments have stressed differences between nations and pushed a few ethnic groups into conflict. With the governmentís official stand blaming rent seekers working across regional borders to pursue contraband and other illegal practices, the unity of the people seems to be jeopardized for individual gains. Conflicts between ethnic groups that have lived side by side are evident in some places along with a general mood of hostility towards people living outside of the region that represents their ethnicity.
The whole situation seems to have alarmed the EPRDF government and the Ethiopian people in general. It is indeed saddening to see a member of a certain ethnic group being harassed into fleeing a locality in their own country just because they donít belong to the major ethnic group in the area. Accordingly, the four parties that make up the EPRDF coalition have launched social forums that would help bring together the different ethnic groups they represent.
With a strong bond among the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia built through a long history of living together and intermarriage, the early steps of these efforts to revamp the relations have been successful in reviving the deep laying need for peace, unity and trust. Such forums are also expected to go on strong to cover a large number of ethnic groups.
Almost simultaneously with the rise of the divisive rhetoric, however, a monument that embodies the unity of all Ethiopians has been growing tall. In the face of this monument of unity, ethnic divisions and political affiliations melt down to create a strong wax of solidarity. Even the most notable personalities of the highly antagonistic and polarized Ethiopian politics rest aside their differences when it comes to this monument. For everyone in all the four corners of the country, the monument feels equally strong and no specific ethnic or political group can claim sole ownership or special affinity.
This monument of unity is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The project has managed to mobilize Ethiopians both at home and abroad with no limit to their political standpoints. Against all sources of differences in the world, the GERD is a force that trumps over all to provide Ethiopians with an irrevocable cause for unity. For that reason, it is important to utilize its positive energy to assist the ongoing efforts to revamp social cohesion.
Upon my recent trip to the project site, I once again felt the remarkable power of the dam to unite us through the considerable hope it exudes. Me, my colleagues and the project officers we met all shared a renewed feeling of bemusement with its contributions to social unity and agreed that it might even be the most important of its facets by-passing its electric generation capacity.
When I arrived at the project site after a couple of years, I was impressed with the progress made during that time.
The area on the left bank of the river upon which the four box culverts were being fitted is not visible anymore as the dam has picked up height over it. Currently, it is through these culverts that the river flows. On the left bank of the dam are two bottom outlets. Just off the dam are located gated spillways that would help reduce the level of water if and when the need arises. The sloppy outlet would release water at a high speed; therefore, a plunge pool is under construction to cool down the waterís energy before it goes into the riverís natural course.
On the right bank, work is being done to make the place ready to support the 8m in diameter penstocks to be buried. These penstocks, mammoth tunnel like structures made of metal, will be used to run stored water by the dam to the turbines that generate electricity. They are fitted at an altitude of 575m above sea level or 75m above the surrounding land. In other words, the height of the dam has hit 75m in this area from a maximum of 145m when it is completed.
On the two extremes of the dam, however, the height of the dam has hit its maximum. On both the left and right banks, there are sections of the dam whose height has reached the maximum 145m. Over 500m of the section of the dam on the two sides has hit the maximum height of 145m. Of the total of 1.8km, 300m culminates at 140m (five meters short of the maximum height) to make up an ungated spillway.
Of the total 10.2 million cubic meter of concrete that needs to be filled to complete the dam, 7.6 million cubic meters has already been filled. That is three-fourth of the total concrete to be filled. With only a quarter to go, we can finally imagine about the end that we all have been looking forward to.
Standing by the project that we all contributed to, we Ethiopians have a good chance of coming out victorious in our fight against poverty. As the project is progressing well, we need to raise the level of our determination to see it through. Buying bonds and helping out the project any way we can is the least we can do to our monument of unity. †††††