IT was double celebrations for residents of Bulawayo and Matabeleland North communities when President Mnangagwa commissioned the Epping Forest water project and also presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline project on Thursday.
The two projects guarantee Bulawayo adequate water supplies which will enable the city to attract more investors and regain its status as the country’s industrial hub.
The communities in Matabeleland North will now be able to grow crops all year round under irrigation as plans are underway to establish a greenbelt along the 245km Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline.
The Gwayi-Shangani dam which is the first phase of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Project (NMZWP), is expected to be completed this year while the pipeline linking the dam to Bulawayo is set to be completed next year.
The coming to fruition of these two major projects that will provide a permanent solution to Bulawayo’s water supply challenges, is coinciding with an expected bumper harvest following good rains this cropping season.
A good harvest is key to industrial growth for an agro-based economy like ours. Agro-based industries are therefore not only guaranteed reliable water in the City of Kings but adequate raw materials this year and in future as farmers in Matabeleland North will be able to grow crops all year round.
Food imports which have been gobbling foreign currency running into millions of dollars will soon be a thing of the past and these resources will now be directed to reviving industries in cities such as Bulawayo.
The city in fact, used to have a number of food processing industries which should be revived now that the city has adequate water and the country is expecting a bumper harvest. Government has for a long time now been availing resources to assist Bulawayo companies to re-tool, re-equip to enable them to produce not just for local consumption but for export as well.
Bulawayo City Council on its part should now be aggressive in marketing the city as an investment destination of choice and should also be working on creating an environment that is attractive to investors.
The city is strategically positioned especially for those industries that want to produce for exports hence it used to be the country’s industrial hub. The Second Republic is convinced that Bulawayo is poised for industrial growth and as such is committing a lot of resources to enable the city to meet new investors’ demands.
The City of Bulawayo should not be found wanting when it comes to providing services to new and old investors. The thrust now should be on enhancing ease of doing business and this is only possible if council and relevant Government departments understand and appreciate investors’ expectations.
Bulawayo should in fact, brace for an industrial boom given the positive indicators already shown this year. The city has in the past witnessed a flight of companies due to water shortages but this is now a thing of the past as the city is now guaranteed adequate water for both industrial and domestic use even during years of drought.