Crisis-hit Sudan opens bigger dam in conflict state
A torrent of water surges into the Sudanese Blue Nile river at the
launch of the expanded Roseires dam, a 66-year old dam that signifies a
major power generator for the country
AFP , Wednesday, 2 Jan 2013
A torrent of water surged Tuesday into Sudan's Blue Nile river at the
launch of the expanded Roseires dam, which officials say should help
develop one of the country's poorest regions where insurgents are
fighting the government.
A strategically-important structure, the 66-year-old dam is already a
major power generator for a Sudan struggling with economic crisis since
South Sudan separated last year with most of the country's oil
production. It is located on the Blue Nile near Ethiopia and the
expansion has cost $460-million.
After four years of work and the resettlement of 20,000 families,
Roseires dam now stands 10 metres (33 feet) higher, doubling its storage
capacity to allow additional power generation and agricultural
irrigation, officials said. "The significance is very huge," Industry
Minister Abdulwahab Mohammed Osman told AFP on the sidelines of the
ceremony held to mark the country's 57th independence day.
He said millions of feddans (acres or hectares) of land will be
irrigated or provided with additional water because of the project. The
dam's capacity has risen to 7.4 billion cubic metres. Sudan has been
aggressively trying to tap its abundant Nile waters for power generation
and agricultural development.
In 2009 it opened the $2-billion Merowe dam north of Khartoum and is
also building the connected Atbara and Seteet hydroelectric projects in
Gedaref and Kassala states.
The government sees agriculture as one way of trying to boost revenue
after the separation of South Sudan, following a 23-year civil war,
deprived the north of most of its export earnings and precipitated an
economic crisis with soaring inflation and a sinking currency.
When President Omar al-Bashir arrived to open the Arab-funded,
Chinese-built expansion before thousands of dancing and flag-waving
residents, an arc of water surged through the flag-draped dam, sending
spray into the air and rapids surging into the river.
Military helicopters flew low overhead and troops were stationed
throughout the area. Insurgents, which Sudan says are backed by South
Sudan, have been fighting government forces in Blue Nile state since
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