Kajaki Dam Project Now Stalled

Taliban stall key Afghan project: report

Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 14 Dec 2009

LONDON, Dec 14, 2009 (AFP) - The future of an enormous hydroelectric turbine dragged through insurgency-hit Afghanistan by several thousand British troops for a major energy project is now in doubt, a report said Monday.

NATO forces are unable to secure a road leading to the dam in unstable Helmand province so that workers can finish the project, the Guardian said.

The mission to deliver the turbine and equipment to Kajaki dam was hailed last year as a major achievement for British forces deployed in Helmand, while the project was meant to eventually generate power for the country's south.

But the newspaper said 15 months after the successful mission, the turbine's components remain unassembled because huge amounts of cement required to install the equipment cannot be delivered safely.

The United States Agency for International Development, which has so far pumped 47 million dollars (29 million pounds) into the project, says it is packing up the turbine parts, the paper said.

It was now looking for other energy projects to invest in across Afghanistan, it said.

"Our message is that until we have a secure road we cannot continue with the installation of turbine two," said John Smith-Sreen, head of energy and water projects in USAID in Kabul.

"When the turbine was moved in by British and American forces it was a huge effort and it was done in a point of time," he said.

"But we can't move in the large quantity of cement, and aggregate that we need in a point of time, we need a sustained effort."

British and other NATO troops accompanied the turbine on the 180-kilometre (110-mile) journey from the Pakistani border, fighting off insurgents along the way, Britain's defence ministry said at the time.

Insurgents have since been unable to get close to the dam and its turbine hall, but heavy fighting around the area of British control is an almost daily occurrence, it said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed a renewed effort to defeat the Taliban insurgency as he made an unannounced visit Sunday to troops in Helmand


Book Reviewer
This is not really 'news', in that it's been common public knowledge (at least to anyone interested) for a while - but had not reached mainstream media until now.

Anyone who has been there will realise the enormity of the task facing the engineers at the dam and those involved in the logistics of repairing it. Earlier this year, USAID were saying that it represented the most expensive concrete in the world, as all cement and aggregate had to be flown in by commercial helicopter(this in a country that seems to be made almost entirely of sand, gravel, scalpings, and other useful building materials).

There will be no major construction there until the roads are relatively clear, and that isn't likely to happen for a while, to put it mildly. Mind you, given that the Taliban tax the electricity supply, the delay is keeping money out of their dishdashes as well :)


Book Reviewer
WhatAmIDoing said:
Does anyone know how transmission lines are secured elsewhere in the country or what the rate of "you blow it up, we'll patch it up is"?
Afghanistan is not Southern Iraq - there does not seem to be a problem, anywhere (even elsewhere in Afgh), of anyone blowing up pylons to either steal the copper or whatever. This could of course change if, as in Basra, the Iranians start paying the locals way over the odds for copper, just in order to cause mischief. It's only a distribution problem insomuch as the current cabling could not take all that the dam could produce, and anyway the distribution system does not reach many areas. Everyone wants more electricity, even the Talibs!
Working in Dartford a couple of years ago with a German company that was laying the new electric ring main around the bridge for the upcoming building projects there.

Whilst nattering to a few of the engineers, they were saying that they should be in Afghanistan next year ( last year ) doing some power cabling out there with some new stuff that their company was designing.

They explained that it was a cabling system that was designed to be easily replaced when damaged/blown up by the fact it was fully modular.Hundreds of sections of cable all in one piece as a normal system but you just disconnect the fecked part and directly replace with a new part.

Has anyone seen this yet?

Oops. better mention that it was supposed to be an underground system.
The long term future of the Kajaki hydropower project may be limited anyway.

This document

Indicates that 25% of the reservoir has already silted up. By the 2050's this is predicted to be about 40%.
There is also predicted to be a huge increase in demand for irrigation. I foresee that there might not be enough in the dam to run all the generators.
I watched the turbine trundle past my overwatch position 15 months ago. As it passed I commented to one of my section commanders that it wouldn't be up and running any time soon. The taliban were all for letting it through and even offered to dig up the IED's for safe passage, obviously for the large fee which ISAF had offered beforehand! Their commanders in Pakistan put a block on it and told them to stop it from getting through. They got smashed anyway and the turbine got through.

The operation itself was huge compromising 2 and 3 PARA, lots of attached minor units as well as ANSF. To get the concrete through would require another huge operation and considering concrete isn't exactly a light substance it would be a nightmare both in resources and cost. It would be better to try and negotiate with the taliban and pay them off, though it didn't work last time.
Why is it not possible to chopper the sh1t in?
Because there is no choppers. :oops:


Book Reviewer
Helicopters used for this (and in fact, many the Admin runs) are not CrabAir/Army/RN/JHF/whatever, but Civvy, run by contractors - MI-8/17s (one of these shot down last year) or giant Mi-26 (one of these also shot down last year).

Not an easy job, but I suppose the money's pretty good (You'd have to pay me plenty to fly regularly in one of those Hips!) and it's better than festering in Moldavia or wherever. Still, no matter how huge,it would still take an awful, awful, lot of Helis to shift enough cement to make a difference at Kajaki.
Just thinking out aloud here. Why dont they construct a batching plant on site in Kajaki, like the one in Bastion. We all know that hardcore is easily crushed using local stone, sharp sand can be sourced locally and water in kajaki is easily available. Wow we have concrete!!!!!

To me this is utter bollox, just another example of shite that has been wasting millions of tax payers money, through lack of vision.

Any Clerk of Works out there please feel free to comment
USAID have been funding hundreds and hundreds of helicopter flights. The turbine move (whilst a great UK PR victory - and a successful operation) was only a small part of a much bigger project that will not see greater transmission on existing programmes for a number of years.

Chunkeyknob - I wouldn't hide behind any of your walls - you forgot cement; and that can't be produced on site.
The pure weight of the concrete rather than the mass is the problem in this case for a helicopter.As one of the learned chaps said before, the concrete mix can be up to 2.4 ton per cubic metre.

However the concrete used in various applications can have vastly different amounts of actual cement inside, sometimes well up to 80% mix for high stress use.This totally changes the speed at which it must be poured and set and managed.

Unless you can have a airbourne version of those cement mixer trucks you see on the road, it would just be solid bags of set concrete by the time it got to the dam.

I would assume when the dam was initially built that they would have had their own mix factory on site, it would actually be rather crazy not to.....if you restarted this and could produce the amounts needed, you have just got one main ingrediant to bring in.
Dilfor said:
USAID have been funding hundreds and hundreds of helicopter flights. The turbine move (whilst a great UK PR victory - and a successful operation) was only a small part of a much bigger project that will not see greater transmission on existing programmes for a number of years.

Chunkeyknob - I wouldn't hide behind any of your walls - you forgot cement; and that can't be produced on site.
I hear you, but cement is the ingredient of the lowest ratio. Therefore you can transport it more freely. IE by ICAT, by Logistics convoy etc. And if they want to throw more money at it, then they can transport the raw materials and produce their own cement.
Beans_Boots_n_Brows said:
Why is it not possible to chopper the sh1t in?
See you've never done a weekend of DIY 'laying a concrete path'...looking at Chinook payloads or seeing the 'big picture' that the dam entails..."chopper the shit in"...WTF...are you ACF...or a STAB 'banker' based in City Road..??.. :D
i can state that the helos (civi, as in icat and mi-8 hips) in theatre are contracted for a certain amount of hours per month, for the amount that was being underslung there are loads of hours left within the contract to lift stuff upto kajaki. i dont think lifting raw cement would be the answer ,however, the machinery to make it could easily be done within the lift capacity and within the negotiated hours that are already in place.
I agree with earlier comments. Why can't they have a batching plant on site. Plenty of local stone for aggregate, plenty of water, all you need to do is ship in the cement, a few mixers and a few chogies to mix it.

We built a massive concrete pad in Kandahar for the Crabheads and all the concrete we used was batched on site by a company called "Golden Relief" (not a piss inspired porn film I can assure you).
They supplied both us and USAF engineers. If they bothered their arse and put their minds to it they could easily get it finished. They can't need that much concrete surely? The Dam itself is already built.

But hey, all that is way above my pay band.

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