Hwange National  Park one-stop access  pavilion takes shape Workmen building access pavilion at Hwange National Park

Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

THE construction of the US$1,4 million one-stop access pavilion at the entrance to the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland North is progressing well with the two structures on either side of the gate now at beam level.

A rangers’ house is also nearing roof level as contractors target to meet the set June deadline.

The project is a product of a partnership between Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) on behalf of Government and the International Fund for Wildlife Welfare (Ifaw) as part of a five-year development deal, which was last year extended to 25 years.

The pavilion will replace the existing boom gate at the site. It will be a one-stop multi-purpose facility with mixed services including a visitor centre, tourism office, a car park, housing for wildlife rangers and a new gate as well as crafts-shop to also promote small to medium enterprises value chain sector.

The pavilion will have high security checkpoint facility with smart technology camera system to fortify efforts to prevent illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife products, and above all act as a huge marketing tool for the national park.

Its construction was also a result of the need to address concerns about absence of marketing for the 15 000 square kilometre game park, which despite being one of Africa’s wildlife sanctuaries, had no signage or marketing to match its status.

The pavilion will change the face of the game park and promote it as a must visit tourism destination. Located near the railway line at the boundary of the game park and Forestry Commission reserve land, the pavilion will have two twin-buildings on either side of the road where the entrance gate will be.

The semi-circle buildings will be facing each other and the entrance security gate will be constructed joining the two. Government contracted Mak Bokano, a local company to do the construction works.

Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu presided over the ground breaking last year in October and was satisfied with progress when he visited recently. Workmen were busy with construction work, showing significant progress. The builders said they will meet the deadline.

“There is so much progress happening,” said Minister Ndlovu during a brief tour of the facility.

He was accompanied by various stakeholders that included representatives from Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo’s office, Zimparks, Ifaw, Environmental Management Agency, Forestry Commission, traditional leaders Chief Dingani Nelukoba, Chief Shana and Chief Whange, Hwange Rural District Council and Zanu-PF Hwange District and provincial leadership.

Minister Ndlovu was in the area to meet communities over human-wildlife conflict issues, which are prevalent in the area.

“We get to witness and celebrate a product of what establishing great partnerships can achieve. As Zimbabwe is open for business, we welcome with open arms developmental initiatives, which ultimately contribute to Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030,” he said.

“I cannot overemphasize the need for collective action to achieve win-win scenarios for nature and people facing the brunt of living with wildlife. Since the signing of the agreement between Zimparks and Ifaw in 2019 the Hwange National Park has received the much needed technical, financial and material support whose monetary value is now close to US$3 million,” said Minister Ndlovu about the pavilion.

Ifaw has said the pavilion is partial fulfilment of the Hwange National Park investment plan and will promote tourism in line with Vision 2030.

Ifaw is a global non-profit organisation that operates in 40 countries globally,  helping animals and people live together.

The organisation partners its programmes with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses and pushes for new innovative ways to help all species flourish.

Zimparks is tasked with protection, management and administration of wildlife of Zimbabwe and the partnership with Ifaw has supported a number of projects including construction of a new camp at Makona, scooping of Nyamandlovu Pan, which is a critical waterhole for wildlife and key tourist attraction, upgrading of Mandabvu picnic site, refurbishment of accommodation lodges at Hwange Main Camp, rehabilitation of 90km road stretch into the park, upgrading the Zimparks veterinary centre and renovating Dete Old People’s Home, among other projects.

Hwange National Park is perhaps one of the best-run national parks in the global south but its ambiance doesn’t reveal what’s inside hence the need for the access pavilion.– @ncubeleon

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