A plethora of global surveys depict that most of our planets iconic mega engineering and architectural mega projects that have become national symbols and prides took their originally designed shapes demanding much more additional time and costs, among other issues.
The Three Gorges Dam, which generates over 22, 000 Mw had faced several serious criticisms from human right activists who argued it would pose devastating impacts upon the community. The global community as well condemned the project dubbing it as a project that would displace millions from their homes and would be an environmental catastrophe.
Despite the intense critique, the Chinese government opted to rely on the carefully undertaken feasibility study and impact assessments and accomplished the Three Gorges hydro dam project which is now playing an irreplaceable role in China’s power supply. Nevertheless, the nation incurred over 400% additional cost to finish it.
It is not only Three Gorges Dam that attest the delaying feature and extra costs of mega hydro dams globally, but the Indian Sardar Sarorar required a 513% additional costs, while the Russian Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam incurred a 353% Malayzia’s Bakum and the Canada’s La Grande as well took 417% and 246 % additional expense respectively.
By the same token, what the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has currently faced is what even the technology and economy giants of the world encountered.
Thus, a fair judgment of Ethiopians at this decisive moment would be showing once again their unwavering support to the construction of their grand dam to help it pass the temporary challenges it has faced and see its most awaited bright future.
To all Ethiopians locally and abroad, it should be made clear that the government traced the fundamental problems GERD has encountered. Accordingly, the problems that resulted in the delay are related to hydro-electro mechanical and hydraulic steel structure. These two issues resulted from lack of experience among local professionals in the field limited experience of project management. Inability to understand the depth and complexity of the problems and take instant corrective measures, as well as the reduced quality and level of bottom outlet, culvert, water way penstock and gates works undertaken by METEC were also among the major causes.
After tracing the problems and evaluating their magnitude, the government has made rewarding corrective measures. These include identifying the world’s well experienced and renowned companies and awarding the aforementioned parts of GERD project which resulted in the delay. And now these companies are doing their best, to compensate the delay as well as meeting the deadline. The Ethiopian government has recently announced that the overall project would be accomplished by 2022.
Therefore, now, the course towards finishing GERD might face two challenges, according to Eng. Kifle Horo, GERD Project General Manager. These are maneuvering over the hydraulic steel work correction and fundraising for the next work. Although the first is an assignment for the foreign companies which have already taken over the contract, Ethiopians shall not forget their promise regarding the second issue. They are the sole sources of finance to their mega dam construction.
The good news here is Ethiopians and Ethiopian origins all unanimously came to an understanding that finance cannot be a challenge. A grand testimony for their grand pledge could be the amount they contributed only over the past six months ,which is close to half billion ETB. This even may witness they have such a value and vision for GERD that they would do anything to give it an end, terrible though the pain from the delay has been.
Ethiopians and the government should also be cautious that much as the temporal challenges of GERD brought annoyance to Ethiopians, it sent a dire delight to some in the neighborhood. When they heard the prolonging of GERD project completion time Some Egyptian journalists in particular expressed their ecstasy over the delay as they heard the four-year postponement of GERD completion from the Ethiopian media. Some blessed their God for their prayer was heard.
Amir Adib the renowned program host of Egyptian TV said “This is a gift from Allah!”as he heard the postponement. Yet the most painful part of Amir’s accentuation to Ethiopians came as he said, “I’d like to tell my Ethiopian brothers not to be hasty; destroy all you have built and restart the construction, we’d rather send you engineers.”
For any non-Ethiopian but rational human Amir’s statements are real insults arising from irresponsible journalism. He should have at least valued Ethiopian government promises not to significantly affect the water flow to the downstream countries as well as the trust built as the result of recurrent conversation over the Nile over the past years.
On the other hand, for Ethiopians and the government, Amir’s expressions are manifestation for the presence of enduringly wary entities that never want the realization of GERD which is the apple of Ethiopians eyes.
Besides, Ethiopians must always remember that what some Egyptians took for “God’s gift” (the four- year delay) was a new continuum of their old fairytales. But the truth about the river is that it is the gift of God to Ethiopia, who has the original and natural right to use it. But the country has never tapped it; nevertheless, it is never too late, but only if Ethiopians could continue their irreplaceable support to finish the project as per the schedule and pay off themselves and disgrace their common enemies. To do this, what it takes Ethiopians and Ethiopian origins is to take victory over one of the challenges Eng. Kifle Horo mentioned-fundraising for the rest of GERD construction.
In fact, attaining GERD for Ethiopians appears to be not a matter of choice or an issue to be tabled for negotiation. They know quitting it is a defeat. But pages of history books, even those produced by foreign authors, stipulate Ethiopians ever have an indomitable spirit; they never accept defeats.
It is then very unlikely for them to opt darkness than light, to quit the project and let millions of Ethiopian mothers continue experiencing health social and economic burdens related to firewood and charcoal. It is also highly improbable to think Ethiopians would prefer living with poverty denying the multifarious development benefits the attainment of the dam would bring consequently, these and the current wave of unity in the new Ethiopian would aggregately gear them towards accomplishing the dam.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that efforts must be exerted by the concerned body to further mobilize the public locally and in the diaspora. The mobilization for fundraising and other forms of support should also have a room for updating citizens both locally and abroad with the latest and transparent reality about the status of GERD. Here, to say a few words of commendation and critic on the extent of public support, both Ethiopians and Ethiopian origins in the Diaspora and locally have shown incredible commitment so far. However, the support from the Diaspora has not been as such expected one reason for this could be the unhealthy relation between the government and the Diaspora community.
The number of Ethiopians in the Diaspora is expected to exceed 3 million. However, those who were in support of the dam were few particularly during the time before Premier Abiy Ahmed, many members of the Diaspora community in the US claimed the release of political prisoners or they would not finance the dam. They also challenged GERD bond sales in different states.
Apparently, for Ethiopians at home, the issue of the dam has never been mixed with politics. The Diaspora should also have the same feeling at least learning from those at home and being farsighted about the sweeping development it can bring. It is also hoped that they understand they have moral obligation to support national endeavors towards the betterment of the life of the posterity. Then the rhetoric of GERD’s goal would never be different than renovating a brighter tomorrow for Ethiopians.
Today an exceptionally better political atmosphere has been achieved. A new sun shun in Ethiopia. This might have forced the Diaspora to change its mind. Now, it is a good time for them to lend their hands for their motherland. It is also an opportune for the government and others concerned to table the issue of GERD to the diaspora to equip them with adequate information about it. They should also be informed about what failure or success of the dam would mean to them, and their beloved nation. The concerned should also devise a means to communicate the strong Diaspora community establishments soon.
Last but not least, Ethiopians commenced GERD project to make it their national pride. Others in the neighborhood as well assumed its contribution for their green development. However, failure to realize GERD would undoubtedly be national disgrace.