Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE construction works at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam are set to resume in April as the Chinese engineers involved in the project are expected in the country next month.
They had been held up in China due to Covid-19 induced travel restrictions.
The Gwayi-Shangani Dam construction and completion has been made a top priority this year and Government has allocated $4,5 billion towards the project, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) said yesterday.
Zinwa expects to have completed constructing the dam by the end of the year which will culminate in the laying of the 260km pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to Bulawayo.
The parastatal said the target was to complete construction of the dam by the end of next year.
Gwayi-Shangani Dam is located in Hwange District and upon completion is set to also benefit Binga and Lupane districts, Bulawayo City as well as communities along the proposed pipeline which will be constructed with a series of booster pumping stations. The completion of the dam and the pipeline is viewed as the permanent solution to Bulawayo’s water crisis.
On Friday, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka visited the site where a groundbreaking ceremony for the laying of the 260km pipeline would be held in Nyamandlovu, Umguza District, Matabeleland North.
Since 2019, Government has disbursed more than $1 billion dollars for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam which will change the face of Matabeleland region.
Responding to questions from the Chronicle, Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said Government remains committed to completing the Gwayi Shangani Dam and providing a permanent solution to the Bulawayo water crisis.
“The construction and completion of Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been made a top priority this year. Of the nearly $10,7 billion allocated towards ongoing and new water infrastructure projects, a total of $4,5 billion was allocated towards the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which is 39 percent complete,” said Mrs Munyonga.
She said last year construction of the dam suffered a huge setback following the failure to return from China by the contractor’s key personnel due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions.
“The contractor, China Water and Electric Corp has assured Zinwa that the full complement of staff required to see through the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam will all be in the country by March with full scale construction expected to resume in April when flows in Gwayi River would have subsided,” said Mrs Munyonga.
She said the dam is expected to start holding water by the end of the year and Zinwa was now preparing to start construction of the pipeline.
“The construction of the dam is the first phase of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) and the second phase is the construction of the pipeline from the dam to Bulawayo.
Preliminary work on the pipeline has begun after Government allocated money towards the project,” she said.
Plans are underway to establish a green belt between Bulawayo and the dam as families staying along the pipeline will have access to water for irrigation.
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. — @nqotshili.