ED: Turning impossibilities into possibilities Lake Gwayi-Shangani

Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa was recently sworn in for a second term after winning the August 23 harmonised elections.

The President immediately vowed to continue with his development agenda, taking off from where he had left just before the election break.

His work is visible especially in Matabeleland North where a number of mega projects have been implemented since the coming in of the Second Republic.

For the first time since independence, the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway is being effectively rehabilitated while Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme is already functional while work on Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme in Binga is underway with plans to plant this year. The construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani whose completion is at over 70 percent is also well on course.

President Mnangagwa officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 Expansion project in August 2018 and exactly five years later, he recently officiated at the commissioning of the project following its completion.

The project added 600MW to the national grid and it has helped close the gap in the country’s power supply, as well as make Zimbabwe, a member of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), a big contributor to the regional grid.

The country is already feeling the positive impact of the project, which has renewed business investment confidence and is a huge boost towards the realisation of National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030 targets.

Sadc has a deficit of nearly 6 000 to 7 000MW and whichever country can produce excess power, there is a market, and President Mnangagwa, stands tall as a leader whose vision is not only confined to the country but to serving the region.

The country is now able to meet its power demand of about 1 900MW and because of improved domestic output, the power utility has since suspended load shedding as we journey towards energy sufficiency which began in 2018 when President Mnangagwa visited China and met his counterpart, President Xi Jinping during which they discussed a number of projects.

From that engagement, President Mnangagwa successfully secured the loan from China to finance the project whose completion has fulfilled one of the promises made by the President on improving the power supply situation in the country. Tendering for the Hwange Expansion Project was initially done in 2011 and the tender was awarded to Power China’s subsidiary, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, by the then State Procurement Board in May 2013 to carry out the EPC Works.

President Mnangagwa

After years of dragging, President Mnangagwa made it happen as implementation kicked off after the groundbreaking in 2018.

The local community has also benefitted as 74 houses were built by Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) as part of its Relocation Action Plan (RAP) for affected persons who were impacted by the construction of the new Transmission and Distribution Line. Several water outlets were also placed along the Deka Upgradation Project pipeline as part of ZPC’s Corporate Social Investment as a way to give back to the Deka community.

In order to make sure that no one and no place is left behind, there was a purposeful local empowerment plan (Hwange – both rural and urban areas) where the locals were given first priority and employed for these projects.

More than 4 000 Zimbabweans got jobs while there was significant skills transfer. Offices that were used by the contractor were donated to ZPC.

Neshaya Secondary School got 500 chairs and desks donated by Sino Hydro.

The contractor also helped in the health sector with personal protective equipment to the Covid-19 Centre. As for the Lake Gwayi-Shangani, President Mnangagwa’s vision is to ensure Matabeleland North advances its irrigation and improves access to clean water.

Mooted way back in 1912, the dam project is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which successive administrations failed to kickstart before President Mnangagwa pledged to complete the project.

Project implementation was sluggish until the coming in of the Second Republic, which has pushed it through its vision to uplift livelihoods towards an upper-middle-income society by 2030.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani is the third largest inland dam after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi with a gross carrying capacity of 650 million cubic metres.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is constructing the dam through China Water and Electric Corporation, a Chinese contractor.

The project is viewed as the panacea to the perennial water problems in Bulawayo, and would help create a green belt along the line where a 256km pipeline is being constructed.

Government has already identified 10 000 hectares of land that will be irrigated in various districts in Matabeleland North to enhance food security as communities along the pipeline are expected to benefit from the water passing through their villages.

A 10MW hydroelectric power station will be established on site, which will boost electricity generation and add to the grid, while also supporting the tourism industry with power. Tourism operators around Dete in Hwange have said Lake Gwayi-Shangani will lead to the introduction of new activities that will help boost arrivals in the tourism corridor.

Engineer Lucio Chayeruka from Zinwa said currently, excavation work is happening at the site where a 10MW hydropower plant will be installed.

The dam wall is now 30 metres out of 72 metres and overall the project is 70.2 percent. We are doing excavation for the hydropower plant where we are going to be generating 10MW of electricity.

“There will be a main pump carrying water to Bulawayo and we are in the process of constructing a booster pump station,” he said.

Already, Government has deployed teams to the ground to lead the mapping exercise that will guide the relocation of families situated on the dam’s flooding zone.

Chief Dingani-Nelukoba whose area is near the dam said the community looks forward to benefit from the project.

“Obviously the major benefit is clean water for household use and irrigation. We are anxious to have a greenbelt up to Bulawayo and we look forward to having camps established along the pipeline and we should be the primary beneficiaries for every business.

“We will be disappointed if that does not happen but so far we are happy because they have put a reservoir at Sianyanga and we hope we will be able to get water from there to our homesteads,” said the Chief. — @ncubeleon

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