New Ethiopia dam tunnel collapses

A water passage tunnel in a recently inaugurated hydropower dam in Ethiopia has reportedly collapsed, an NGO, International Rivers has said.

In a press statement copied to, the NGO said a critical water passage tunnel in the newly inaugurated Gilgel Gibe 2 hydropower project in Ethiopia collapsed.

About 10 days after the ceremony, “African Energy Intelligence” and the Italian public channel RAI 3 reported that, the project’s core component, a 26-kilometer-long tunnel collapsed, shutting down operations for an extended period. The repair could take months, the reports said.

The dam which is currently Ethiopia’s biggest power plant has a capacity of 420 megawatts and was built at a cost of 374 million euros. The project channels the water discharged from the Gilgel Gibe 1 Dam through a long tunnel and a steep drop directly to the valley of the Omo River.

The project, being built by Italian firm Salini, had already been delayed by more than two years, the statement said.

The NGO claims that the Gilgel Gibe contract was also awarded without a feasibility study. Adding that construction started – again in violation of Ethiopian law – without an environmental permit.

Italian law and international agreements require that development aid only fund infrastructure projects that are based on international tenders. Yet in violation of that law, and against the recommendation of its own evaluators, Italy’s Ministry of Development Cooperation awarded 220 million Euros in aid money for Salini’s contract on Gibe 2. The European Investment Bank contributed another 50 million Euros, and the Ethiopian government funded the remaining 104 million Euros for the project, it said.

According to the statement, the power project was supposed to be completed in December 2007, but shoddy planning took its toll. Poor geological studies overlooked sandy soils and other unexpected problems. Tunnel-boring equipment got stuck in the mud, and engineers had to redesign the tunnel’s path. Usually contractors carry the risks of such cost overruns. Yet the dubiously negotiated contract for Gilgel Gibe 2 exempts Salini from geological risks, so the Ethiopian electricity consumers and taxpayers ended up with the bill.

This new accident falls under the contractual responsibilities of Salini, and the company must restore the tunnel and cover all extra costs, but it is possible that
part of these costs will again be transferred to Ethiopian taxpayers, the statement said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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  1. gg says

    It is better to be in the center of the problem than to be out of the problem ! NGO’S are working hard to tied Ethiopia from making any progress. The issue of environment is just the cover their inner motive is just to keep Ethiopia under darkness. But the ruling party must take it share of the blame for using projects for political consumption and for its poor negotiation power.

  2. Biruk says

    Oh! Really?

  3. Mike says

    I found this story hard to believe. There is no confirmation from Ethiopian Government or any other news agencies. I hope this is not just a scam which is a continuation of the cynical protests against the construction of the dam.

  4. Hannibal says

    Recently, Multinational Corporations (MNCs), on the one hand, and International NGOs, on the other hand, are trying to impose on Ethiopia their own agenda. Ethiopia has adopted a progressive legislation that regulates the research on, and importation of, genetically modified food (GMOs). But MNCs that produce GMOs are threatening the country with withholding food aid unless the country cancels such legislation. It has built a hydroelectric power plant, but NGOs like International Rivers are asking the country to scrub the project. However, one cannot please every body; thus, the government of Ethiopia has to pursue its own national interest.

    The head quarter of International Rivers (IR) is located in California where more than 1000 dams are in existence. As far as my knowledge is concerned, IR did not oppose the construction or operation of any of these dams; IR, instead, opposes the construction of each and every dam in a developing country. Thus, IR acting like a hypocrite.

    Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. About 85% of its population (about 69 million people) does not have access to electricity. Hence, what is wrong with the policy of a government that tries to provide electricity to its largest part of the population? The government has the duty to provide electricity to its citizens in one way or another. And I think as compared to the other alternatives, hydroelectricity is the most environmental friendly.

  5. des says

    I’m sure corruption and total disregard for commonsense has nothing to do with this accident or the many more that is to come regarding the many construction around the country. Shoddy work and kickbacks are common whether it is highways or dams. Both the ruling party and corporations getting the contracts are rushing to grab their share while the people are the losers.

    gg, colonialism is now history. It is about time we Africans take responsibility for our own failures. If it wasn’t for NGOs, many more Africans would die of hunger and preventable disease than the millions who do now. Before trying to someone to blame, ask what we have done to change our own situation. And the answer is, sadly, “not so much.”

  6. concerned ethiopian says

    After i have red this sad story, i tried to find out its origin. It was “SUDAN TRIBUN”. But the Link of the story does not exist anymore. Is it some kind of “joke”? A bad joke, if it were. Or is it realy happend?, and the tried to hide it from the public. This one doesn’t surprised me.

  7. Human Rights says

    We’ve always known the regime ruling over Ethnopia is capable and willing to cause such damages to the country it has been haterdly ruling for the last twenty years. Their policy is no one has to succeed unless the beneficiary is from Tigray region. The regime murdered many civilian in Addis Ababa (in 2006), inorder to justife they invasion against Somalia on December 23 2006. The regime insiders are also suspected of causing the recent plane crash off the coast of Lebanon. In 1997 they burned millions and millions of hectar forrest, they blames it on forest fire, and later it was discovered they were doing it in order to chase the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The ecological damage caused in that deliberate fire seeting of forest is so huge, no one can understand how mean spirited the regime in Ethiopia is. Right away they ignited etho-war between the African tribes in Ethiopia, recently that was exposed, but thanks to the US media is doing everything possible to hide the fact. At the moment the target ethnic in Ethiopia are the Somalis who reside in the Eastern section of the country, they encircled the region and prevented all NGOs from entering, in order to mass muder the Ethio-Somalis to grab the land, because the area is endowed with natural gas.

    These people have no limits as to why they will do to earn side money. I will bet you all, the casue of this tunnel collapse will not be known. Because they did cause it, since the project is not in their ethnic eclave, which most of the international donors projects are located at. They did this in order to frustrate the Amharas where the project was located at.

  8. Richard Carpenter says

    1. Giglel Gibe 2 is not located in Amhara Region. It is located in the SNNPRS (Souther Nations, Nationalities, and People Regional State). Don’t ask me about the name. I just want to report that is NOT in Amhara Region.

    2. If it were not for the NGOs……????? Come on man, can you tell me a single country that has developed (or have been better off) because of NGOs? if NGOs were so great, Bangladesh would have been a member of the G-7.

    3. The current ruling party in Ethiopia is not perfect. Show me a perfect ruling party in any country. It has done a lot of mistakes. Some very serious mistakes. However, it is also doing a lot of good in infrastructure development around the country. Granted some of these could be done better. But can IR or anyone else claim that all projects undertaken in in any country are always perfectly planned, designed, and implemented. Why do these people think that they know more about every country than the people living there? Most Ethiopian like the project IR hates (Gilgel Gibe 3). The Kenyans (by in large) are OK with it. Since this project is being implemented in Ethiopia and Ethiopians support it (and Kenyans are OK with it), it is, by any measurement the NGOs claim to support, a project worth pursuing.

    The other chatter about “a tunnel collapsing” and so forth is a smoke screen to push a different goal.

    I recognize the right of IR to advocate any cause they prefer. If you do, take the time to understand all facets of what you are advocating. Despite their arrogance, they are so uninformed about all the subtleties of the cause for which they claim to fight. Unfortunately such a bunch of stupid a…s sometimes have a sway in shaping public opinions — at least in their own locales.

    National (local) politics aside, these hydro-power projects are good for Ethiopia and are desperately needed.

  9. Fairman says

    I know Ethiopian gov’t is a big corrupted gang group.
    But taking collapse of a tunnel as a big deal and take it as a big news is not constructive to that poor country!!

    It happened so many times in various parts of the world. And it was not taken too negative.As I read the news, the intention of the NGO looks too negative to Ethiopia than to the gang group.No matter who build it, it will help the poor people of Ethiopia.
    So, stop opposing the construtors.THE NGO LOOKS TOO DISTRUCTIVE.


    I know NGOS have been there for so many decades in Ethiopia but they have not been constructive to Ethiopia so far!! Ethiopia would have been growen better if you were not there.

    It is through you(NGO’s) that untested( or for testing next to rats) vaccins are distrubuted to the poor Ethiopian people.

    Now you are talking about collpase of a tunnel.You should have talked the ways to repair it better than blaming the gang group.

    Any ways, the news is unconfirmed and NGO’s are clearly useless and harmful to the benefits of Ethiopia.

  10. Sara temnesnesh says

    I thing that the dam )s) are necessary for the rpogress of the country and the need of water of the entire countrey- The only thing I am concerned of : hope that the constructions will be done in a safe and secure wy – The Italian gourp who is eaged is a very serious company: Italian Ingeneeers are well known all over the wrold and Italy has a great number of dams. I know they are good planners and they HAVE ALL CONTRUCTION POWER AND TECHNICAL PREPARATION-
    So , withour polemizing avery where and every time, let ‘s to find ot where the truth is and encourgae our country development activities- God save Ethiopia- our Holy mother-land

  11. adamu says

    there is no dout that the tunnel left get mud I have never heard the truth from ETH gov’t ; but innocent people waitiing for the truth from eth gov’t ; what ever the the case I wish this grestes hydro power station back to service.

  12. patriot says

    this is a sordid story of corruption and bad politics, Italian contractor, Italian consultant, Italian loan …. this is the result: total failure! Let’s investigate on all these Italian characters and see which roles they played in this sordid story

  13. Jennifer says

    The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.
    India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.
    Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

    This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

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