In Central Africa, government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wants construction works on the delayed Inga 3 dam to begin regardless of not conducting thorough environmental impact assessments (EIA).
[quote]This is according to commentary provided by non-profit organisation (NGO) International Rivers, which states that the hydropower project has now escalated to involve political devices, completely disregarding the people and the environment that will be affected by the development.
Government won’t conduct the EIA
During a meeting with the NGO, Bruno Kapandji, the director of the Inga project agency, said government intends to begin construction of the dam even without conducting the EIA, and with the World Bank disapproving of the move.
Kapandji said: “Inga 3 is here to meet a need…Inga is a Congolese project located in Congo, you have to think as a Congolese, as a Congolese we have no choice but to build Inga 3. And for the cities in Kinshasa, Bas-Congo and Katanga, Inga 3 is the only solution.”
“Our [energy] industry cannot develop because of lack of energy, this is a concern for us. Inga 3 will produce almost 3,000MW; 1,000MW in the region and a 1,000MW in the south for the mines,” he added.
When asked about the World Bank refusing to support the DRC’s government non-compliant to environmental impact studies, Kapandji instead posed a question to NGOs, “why can’t you commission or finance these studies.”
In response, Peter Bosshard, the Interim Executive Director at International Rivers, said: “International Rivers and other NGOs will certainly not lend a hand to rescue a project that violates basic international norms and externalises its environmental costs.”
In efforts to move forward with the project, Kapandji disclosed his hopes of awarding the Inga 3 contract to a Chinese consortium, and to build the project with Chinese funding.
“DRC is unfortunate, we are always a leader in finding solutions, but implementation on the ground is always slow,” he noted.
International Rivers quoted his comment from earlier this month when Kapandji said that the Chinese companies could complete the project in a “maximum of five years and if they’re free to do whatever they want to do they can even do it in four years”.
Construction of workers camp
Kapandji said presently the agency is preparing the files, including technical, legal, commercial and financial “to make the following things happen – first to start the project as soon as possible, and second to select the consortium as soon as possible.”
He added: “According to our experts it is possible to start with at least construction of workers camp in November or December 2016.”
China not responding to plea
Continuing on commentary (watch the video), International Rivers highlighted that the Chinese government has instructed its dam builders not to build any international projects without an EIA. The China Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro, members of the Chinese consortiums have both committed that they will not build any projects without such assessments.
Inga 3 Dam is the first stage of the 40,000MW Grand Inga scheme, which is said to be the world’s largest hydro power complex.
In 2013 and 2014, the African Development Bank and the World Bank endorsed US$141 million in grants for the preparation of the US$14 billion project. However, in the wake of recent developments involving politics around Inga 3, the multilateral financiers are reported to have remained silent.
Featured image: Akosombo Hydro Dam. Ghana. Credit: Alamy