Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has since the beginning of last year injected more than $1 billion towards the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North as the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa steps up efforts to complete the massive project.
It is envisaged that once complete, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam will permanently address Bulawayo’s perennial water challenges.
The dam site, which is located in Hwange District, is also set to benefit the districts of Binga and Lupane, as well as communities staying along the proposed pipeline which will be constructed with a series of booster water pumping stations along the way to Bulawayo.
Bulawayo is facing the worst water crisis in years largely due to the effects of climate change and depleting water levels at the city supply dams located in Matabeleland South province.
The dam will have a net holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, which is 1,8 times bigger than the capacity of Bulawayo’s five supply dams.
Government has so far channeled at least US$122 million under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) to speed up the project.
The project, which was initially scheduled to be completed in December 2021, is now expected to be finished in December 2022 after it was stalled due to Covid-19.
In a statement yesterday, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said since March 2019, Government disbursed in excess of $1 billion towards the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
“From March 2019 to date Government has disbursed a total of $1 006 570 996, 95 for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project. Construction of the dam, however, slowed down this year principally on account of the Covid-19 induced lockdown and travel restrictions, and is expected to go full throttle once the contractor’s critical staff return to site,” she said.
“The contractor, China Water and Electric Corporation’s engineers, who are involved in the project, travelled to China in December last year.
“They have not been able to return to the project due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions with most air travel halted and borders closed.”
The dam, set to be Zimbabwe’s third largest inland water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi, both in Masvingo Province, is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP).
Gwayi-Shangani Dam, along with the recently commissioned Marovanyati Dam, are some of the dam construction projects whose completion the Government has given top priority under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which was recently replaced by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) launched by President Mnangagwa on Monday in Harare.
“Regardless of this setback, other work is underway at the construction site, which will see the smooth rejuvenation of the project once the relevant personnel from the contractor return to Zimbabwe. Zinwa engineers and other staff involved in the project also remain on the ground and ready to oversee the construction work,” said Mrs Munyonga.
She said work underway at the site includes the crushing of concrete aggregates, the preparation of river sand, casting of precast concrete elements and the construction of a permanent access road to the outlets.
The construction site is located 245km away Bulawayo. Gwayi-Shangani Dam is situated in region four which is characterised by low rainfall patterns and high temperatures.
After the completion of the construction of the dam, there will also be the construction of a power station which will contribute 10 megawatts to the national grid. @mashnets