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Book

Author:Olivier, Henry
Year:1975
Title:Damit
Place:Johannesburg
Publisher:Macmillan South Africa

All too seldom does a world-famous engineer write a book that offers as much fascination for the layman as for the professional - Dr Henry Olivier keeps the reader spellbound as he takes us behind the scenes and describes the mighty projects in which he has been involved.

Early in his career the author was one of the team which built the prototype of 'Mulberry Harbour'. This was followed by the construction of submersible concrete naval bombardment towers used in the Allied landings in France in World War II. After the war Dr Olivier spent some time on the Scottish Hydro-Electric scheme before being sent to Iran by Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners as consultant engineer to compete internationally for a contract to supply reticulated water to Tehran. After this assignment he headed the team for the designing of the Lar Valley multi-purpose project that today provides power and irrigation for the development of this arid country.

As Dr Olivier proceeds from one massive scheme to another, the reader shares the challenge, excitement and tribulations, for each presents its unique problems and obstacles. We are taken to the Owen Falls dam in Uganda, designed to harness the power of the White Nile. Thence to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where the author was resident partner and chief engineer for the team responsible for the designing and building of the Kariba dam that created the biggest man-made lake in the world. From Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) we go to Pakistan where he was appointed project director for Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners on behalf of the World Bank for the mighty Indus Basin project, part of which is still under construction. In 1967 he was presented with a gold medal "For Meritorious Service to Pakistan" by the President, Ayub Khan.

Back again in Southern Africa the author became responsible partner for one of the firms of international consulting engineers appointed by the Government of South Africa to design and construct the Hendrik Verwoerd and P. K. le Roux dams on the Orange River. Then Dr Olivier faced his greatest challenge when he was asked to head the South African constructural engineering consortium that had been awarded the contract to build the mighty Cabora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river in Mozambique. This multinational project taxed his skill as a politician at the highest international level in addition to his engineering skill.

Dr Olivier has recently been appointed by the South African Government to draw up a concept for a major hydro-electric project in the Transkei, homeland of the Xhosa people. In its magnitude this will rival the Snowy Mountain scheme in Australia. Power from the Transkei will be fed into the Southern Africa power grid which, the author suggests, could weld the countries of this region into the most important economic bloc in Africa. If this comes about, Dr Olivier's greatest achievement will have been "water engineering for peace".

Link to WorldCat - find this book in a library near you

Buildings linked to this book

Gariep Dam, 1964-1972, Colesberg, Northern Cape. pp opp 102 ill, 110, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119
Vanderkloof Dam, 1971-1977, Vanderkloof, Northern Cape. pp opp 102 ill, 112, 115, 116