By Aya Nader
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will have a negative effect on Egyptian monuments because of the instability of the ground after water recedes, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said Tuesday.
Head of the ministry’s monuments division, Ali Al-Asfar, said this concern should serve as incentive “to the world to study the effect of the dam on Egyptian monuments.”
Current projects nationwide have lowered groundwater, keeping it just below the foundations of monuments, Al-Asfar explained. “The monuments have stabilised over this [altered] position, even if [this lower water level] is incorrect,” he said. “Lowering the water levels further will cause cracks on the long term.”
All such projects in the vicinity of monumental sites should thus be suspended, he asserted.
Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Karty said Tuesday that the GERD would not affect the relationship between his country and Egypt, as Sudan is acting as mediator between Egypt and Ethiopia.
In a press conference the same day, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty stressed the historical nature of the bond between Egypt and Sudan, while also emphasising that water security lies at the core of Egypt’s national security.
He added that Egypt’s historical rights to the Nile’s water are “nonnegotiable”.
Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Mohammad Abdul Muttalib had said on Monday that if Ethiopia wants to generate electricity, it should build a smaller dam, noting that the current project would operate “at only 30% efficiency”.
Egypt and Sudan have expressed concern over the effect of the dam on their share of the Nile’s water since its construction began in April 2011.