Prosper Ndlovu and Nduduzo Tshuma, Chronicle Reporters
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday pledged to do everything in his ability to ensure the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project is completed by next year as well as speed up other outstanding projects in Matabeleland region.
A major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been in limbo for years due to lack of funding.
An estimated $53 million is required to complete the project.
The region also requires urgent rehabilitation and dualisation of major roads among other capital infrastructure projects including completion of the Elitsheni Government Complex in Lupane and construction of health facilities.
Addressing bumper crowds that swarmed Nabushome Primary School in Hwange and Lortondale Primary School in Bubi to meet him, the President said infrastructure development was a critical focus under the new dispensation.
As such, he said the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project would be given the priority it deserves.
“I have come here to assess the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which began years back with little progress. The Government I lead, in its first budget in December (2017), has already allocated funding for the project in the budget,” said President Mnangagwa who was accompanied by his deputy, General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), Cabinet Ministers and senior Government officials.
“I have made a promise to the chiefs ukuthi idamu leli lizaphela next year. Ngizabona ukuthi imali efunekayo izabuya idamu liphele next year (I will see that all the required funding for the project is availed to have it completed by next year).”
He said Government would also ensure that one million fingerlings are planted at the dam so that it runs a fishery project. Treasury has already allocated $23 million for the dam project in its 2018 national budget. Earlier on the President and his delegation held a briefing with engineers and traditional leaders at the dam site for close to two hours after which he toured the project.
Head of hydrological services directorate at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), Engineer Taurai Maurukira, explained to President Mnangagwa the project specifics and the processes to be undertaken to complete it.
“The contractor is on site and we are just waiting for the water level to subside so that we start. The dam wall will be 70 metres high and we target to be at 30 metres by the end of the year. About $53 million is needed for the project,” he said.
Eng Maurukira said the dam project master plan covers establishment of a minimum 30 megawatts hydro-power station, which would feed the national grid and supply surrounding communities and envisaged irrigation projects.
In her remarks, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri stressed the need to ensure that the dam project benefitted the immediate communities who should be the owners of the infrastructure as a means of empowerment.
President Mnangagwa said his Government was already working on sprucing up the railway system and implementing dualisation of major roads such as the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highways and rehabilitating the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road and the Kwekwe, Nkayi Lupane, and Karoi-Binga-Dete road.
The poor state of roads has been blamed for the spate of accidents and repelling potential investors.
In Bubi, President Mnangagwa toured the Ingwigwisi Bridge that was built in 1996 but has not been connected to the Bulawayo-Nkayi road.
At the rally, President Mnangagwa said his administration would make sure that the bridge is connected to the main road as the government sees to it that the Bulawayo-Nkayi road project is completed.
President Mnangagwa said he had met with chiefs from Hwange and Binga districts earlier yesterday who requested that the Government builds a border post between Binga and Zambia and the Government had pledged to look into the matter.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Bubi rally, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr Joram Gumbo said the Government had secured a number of investors interested in tarring the Bulawayo-Nkayi road.
“We are in a new dispensation and many people have expressed interest in working with us. We have many investors who have expressed interest in partnering us in many projects including the Bulawayo-Nkayi road,” he said.
Bubi Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Patson Mlilo, hailed President Mnangagwa for his pledge to make sure that the Bulawayo-Nkayi road would be completed in due course.
“This is an important road here in Bubi because it is the road that will bring us investors. Even when other roads are fixed, if this one is not, people would not want to bring their monies here,” he said.