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Ethiopia vows to construct the Great Renaissance Dam despite caution from Panel of Experts

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that Ethiopia would neither halt, nor slow down the construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile. His statement came a day after Bloomberg news reported that a statement it received from the Panel of Experts tasked to study the impact of the Dam cautioned “structural measures might be needed to stabilize the foundation to achieve the required safety against sliding.”

Answering to a question by Addis Standard, PM Hailemariam brushed the concern aside and said, “anyone who is coming with any information from his pocket cannot be the source for us to base our rationalization.”

But on the other had PM Hailemariam said that, “we should base on the result of the panel of experts, who have done [their study] rigorously for more than a year. They have studied it carefully and they have reported.”

“They have [un]equivocally confirmed that the dam is safe.” Anything else, he says, “has no meaning at this time.”

According to the news on Bloomberg, the statement from the Panel of Experts also mentioned ““weak zones” in the rock that will support an auxiliary dam that need to be studied.”   

Sudan’s worry

According to PM Hailemariam, the issue of Dam safety is of Sudan’s primary concern, but the country is supporting the construction with no reservation.  “If the dam collapses the first country [which] is going to be washed away is Sudan… ask Sudanese, they will 100 per cent tell you that the dam is safe, and that they are content and they are supporting it.”

Ethiopia’s decision to construct the $4.7 billion worth dam, Africa’s biggest, on the major tributary of the Nile was met with widespread concerns about the its impact on downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt, which prompted Ethiopia to push for the establishment of the International Panel of Experts comprising of two experts each from the three countries and four more from other nations.

The year -long study by the experts was submitted to the three countries in June this year, but has not been made public, yet. PM Hailemariam said that the report would be made public when all the three countries agree that it should be made public.

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