The Volta River Authority (VRA) has assured Ghanaians that the Akosombo and Kpong Hydro Dams are safe and in good condition to serve the country.
Contrary to the generally held view that hydro dams last for fifty years, after which they are decommissioned, VRA says that the Akosombo dam is different, and that the two dams have long life spans.
According to the VRA, ideally the life span of the dam should have been fifty years, but because of the regular monitoring, maintenance and safety procedures, they have adopted an increased life span and that, they would now be available and working for a very long time, so long as maintenance works are routinely carried out.
The VRA, in response to The Chronicle’s banner headline: “Akosombo Dam could be a ticking time bomb after 54 years of existence”, published on October 18, 2019 edition of the paper, allayed fears of Ghanaians that the dam poses no threat to the environment.
At a tour organised by the VRA, in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association, (GJA) to the plants in the Eastern region on Saturday, October 25, 2019 to brief them about the current state of the dam, Ing Ken Arthur, Acting Director for Hydrogenation, said the dam’s safety is one of the key components of managing the facility.
“Apart from the routine work on the dam safety, we have an independent Dam Review Board that oversees every activity that we do here, concerning dam safety,” he said.
Ing Arthur further told the journalists that: “On the unlikely event, I am saying unlikely because it will never happen, that there is break in the dam, all the necessary procedures had been put in place so that it does not cause any harm.
“So once we have not even gotten to the unlikely event, we would also make sure, as I said, maintain the integrity of this plant.”
The Ag Director Hydrogenation, added that they have instruments on site for monitoring purposes and records taken are kept in a very fair and open manner, which is transparent to independent bodies, to show that the facility is very safe and operating to power the economy of Ghana and beyond.
Christian Atsu Dagbui, Principal Engineer, Civil, at VRA in a presentation reiterated that the Akosombo and Kpong Dams are safe and pose no threats to public safety, emphasising “these facilities shall continue to serve their purpose for many years to come. The Authority implements a rigorous dam safety program and has an excellent maintenance culture.”
To prove it, he said review and rehabilitation of the two dams in what is called “Dam Safety Monitoring System /Instrumentation Project” between 2013 and 2015, executed by an India firm WAPCOS Limited, which cost the country US $3,946,000.
Similarly, rehabilitation of Kpong dam, east and west, and the spillway project, which started in 2018 and expected to end in 2020, being executed by China’s Sinohydro Corporation at a projected cost of US $6, 802,727.62.
Giving details on dams, he indicated that most dams are construed for irrigation, followed by hydropower generation.
“So you will probably be having the Akosombo dam, which is probably a rock fill-dam, which basically means that the material composition is largely rock filled…earth fill dams, which also means the predominant material used in the construction is an earth.
“It could also be named based on the size – it could be low and higher hazard dam, depending on the classification. The classification for Akosombo is class ‘4’ dam,” he said, adding “the dam is still the largest man-made lake in the world in terms of surface area and it has the biggest generation capacity in the country.
“Typically, if the dam is not fit for purpose, you will say the life span has expired, but if you have good monitoring and good dam safety, the life of the dam would be long and the integrity of the dam (Akosombo) is assured,” he said.