A blogger at the International Rivers, Peter Bosshard, broke the news (citing an African Confidential news alert) that part of the main tunnel of the Gilgel Gibe II dam collapsed merely two weeks after its inauguration. The blogger also charges “the Gilgel Gibe deal was awarded without a feasibility study, and construction started without the legally required environmental permit.”
The Italian news agency, IPS, also confirms the story citing Salini, the builder of the dam. IPS says, “barely two weeks after it was formally opened on Jan. 14, the Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric power station suffered a collapse in its main tunnel, forcing closure of the new facility while it is repaired.”
One may be tempted to gloss over the story as the collapse could be minor or it could easily be fixed in the coming few days or weeks. Shelving this story is a big mistake as it does not shine the truth on the root cause of the collapse. One may also engage in endless debates about whether the dam project was tainted with corruption from the get-go or whether the dam could have severe environmental damages. However, that does not address the bigger picture of the issue.
Political Nature of the Gilgel Gibe II Dam Collapse
The Gilgel Gibe II was supposed to be completed in September 2007; and its construction was delayed due to engineering failures resulting from inadequate studies. However, its final phase was rushed to completion just a few months prior to the May 2010 election – to be presented to the public as a trophy for TPLF’s so called “development” platform. The question one needs to ask is at what cost of safety is TPLF using these shoddy projects for its political purpose? More questions …
– Should opposition politicians bring up this important nature of TPLF’s “development” platform – the fact none of them are being done with adequate engineering feasibility studies and, therefore, they lack safety and are environmentally unfriendly?
– One has to wonder how many of the construction projects “littering Addis Ababa (Finfinne)” (read this BBC story about how Addis Ababa was littered with building sites) would face the fate of the Gilgel Gibe II Dam?
– If a high-profile project that TPLF desperately needed for the election was damaged due to a serious engineering mishap just two-weeks after its inauguration, how many other low-profile projects, whom TPLF is using as political trophies, would face the fate of the Gilgel Gibe II Dam?
– Therefore, we ask you to cast your vote for this poll and provide your comments, if any, – “did the rush to complete Gilgel Gibe II for the election result in its collapse?”
Mr. Zenawi at the Inauguration of Gilgel Gibe-I
When Does TPLF Realize Gilgel Gibe Will Not Save It From Electoral Defeat?
Remember 2005? Those who tuned to the Ethiopian state-owned TPLF media could remember how much the construction of Gilgel Gibe-I was propagandized for the election purpose. Merely a year after the inauguration of Gilgel Gibe-I and after countless reruns of Gilgel Gibe-I stories, TPLF faced its defeat at the 2005 election.
What’s up with ultra-radical communist regimes and dams? When it comes to dams, no one beats in the pride North Korea has for dams. Look at the failed state’s official symbol shown here – the dam holds a central place in “development.” Despite having many dams for several years now, North Korea is a failed state (actually, Ethiopia is the 16th failed state while North Korea takes the 17th place). In addition, North Koreans die of famine and are dependent on international food aid. Does that sound like a familiar description of Ethiopia?
Take Apartheid’s South Africa – for all of economic indicators, South Africa had scored economic “achievements” even under the Apartheid system and even when the rest of the world put an embargo on that repressive regime. Most of the buildings in Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria, and other cities of South Africa were built while black South Africans were third-class citizens (after “colored” group, including Indians, Arabs, etc) of their own country under the Apartheid regime.
In conclusion, it’s the nature of the regime, whether it’s repressive, democratic, etc, that determines if a country is on a path to people-centered economic development. In a country where the public is shut out of the political process, “people-centered economic development” resulting in an increase in the standard of living can not be achieved; this follows the Amartya Sen’s Law:
“Shortfalls in food supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can create deadly famines in authoritarian societies.” (Amartya Sen is an Indian Nobel Prize-winning economist)
Debunking the myth that Ethiopia's GDP "just became better than that of Kenya"
Looking at the following World Bank data, it’s false to say that Ethiopia’s GDP became better than that of Kenya for the first time in 2010 (a misleading story on Nazret.com). During the dictatorial Derg regime, Ethiopia’s GDP was much larger than that of Kenya (and also growing at a much faster rate than that of Kenya) – all throughout 1980’s while Ethiopia was waging bloody internal wars, in the mist of a biblical famine and under extreme socialist system. Ethiopia’s GDP made a nose dive downwards in 1992 when TPLF took power in Addis Ababa – the downward trend during TPLF’s reign gave Kenya the advantage to be the biggest economy in east Africa. Therefore, even though Ethiopia’s GDP was much better than that of Kenya during the Derg regime, that alone had not made Derg democratic. In other words, GDP size has no relation to whether a regime is repressive or democratic; it is possible for undemocratic regimes, such as Derg and Woyane, to have a bigger GDP size than any relatively democratic country.