Chinese contractor halts work on $499m Zambian dam over funding: report

The Chinese contractor building a dam on a tributary of the Zambesi River has written to its subcontractors to say work has halted because of delayed payments from the government of Zambia, reports Zambian news website, The Mast.

China National Complete Engineering Corporation (CCEC) is building the $499m Kafulafuta Dam in Zambia’s copper belt, a project that will provide fresh water for some 1 million people. On 5 February, it wrote to subcontractors to say that operations had been suspended.

Bruce Mwamba, secretary general of the Consortium of Local Contractors and Allied Suppliers, a trade association, told the Mast: "This is not good news for the subcontractors. A total of about 15 are affected. This means that 450 workers will be affected as a result of this indefinite suspension. We appeal to the relevant authorities to fund the contractor."

However, the Beijing company’s account was disputed by Japhen Mwakalombe, Zambia’s minister for the copper belt, who said the works had been halted because of heavy rains.

"You know very well that in any construction, it is not advised to continue with works when the ground is wet. So, the works have just stopped because of the rains," he said, according to the Mast.

The Kafulafuta Dam was commissioned in October 2018 and is due to be finished by the end of next year. It will have a catchment area of 2,500 sq km with water supply capacity of 330,000 cubic metres a day and total volume of 125 million cubic metres. The length of the dam will be about 1,300m and the surface area of the reservoir will be 19.5 sq km.

CCEC is a subsidiary of the state-owned the National Machinery Industry Corporation, or Sinomech for short, and specialises in power projects around the world, including two power plants in Nigeria.

Image: The work in progress (CMEC)

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