Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT continues to drive the development of Matabeleland with the 2022 National Budget Statement presented yesterday in Parliament by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube prioritising financing of on-going infrastructure projects in the region.
Major projects receiving the attention of Treasury in Matabeleland include Gwayi-Shangani Dam, a major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, the US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8 expansion, which is almost 70 percent complete and the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post modernisation.
The Binga Airstrip rehabilitation and repair of damaged road infrastructure linking Bulawayo and surrounding regional districts including major city roads, among other projects were also allocated funds.
Government has said completion of Lake Gwayi Shangani, which is 44,5 percent complete, will be accorded top priority with an allocation of $3,6 billion. The allocated funds will go towards the construction of a spillway, outlet works tunnel, 46m of the dam to reach a full height of 72 metres, completion of outlet works and installation of precast concrete formwork for inspection galleries.
The Gwayi- Shangani pipeline got $3,6 billion for the establishment of the engineer’s camp and commencement of construction works. In the 2021 budget, Government allocated $4,5 billion towards the project.
Tuli-Manyange Dam, which is 15 percent complete was allocated $3,5 billion for site establishment, foundation excavations, grouting, backfilling to river bed level and construction of saddle dams and main dam embankment.
Ziminya in Matabeleland North was allocated $1,5 billion for completion of site establishment, foundation excavations and backfilling of foundation to original river bed level.
Mbada (Silverstroom) in Matabeleland North got $400 million for completion of site establishment and foundation excavations as well as construction of main dam, outlet works and raw water pipeline.
“In line with the Integrated Approach to Water Supply Development, the amount allocated for the National Matabeleland Water pipeline project will enable the construction of the 245km pipeline linking the Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo water treatment works,” said Prof Ncube.
Prof Ncube said progress on the Lake Gwayi-Shangani project has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and other project implementation bottlenecks.
In 2022, a total of $22, 4 billion will be channeled towards sustaining works on ongoing dam construction projects.
Prof Ncube noted that aging infrastructure coupled with increasing population, as well as rural-urban migration have necessitated the need for Government to urgently invest in new water supply sources and sewer infrastructure.
Treasury allocated Bulawayo City Council a grant of $100 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the city’s existing water supply and sewer infrastructure. Victoria Falls and Gwanda municipalities got $176 million and $5,5 million respectively
“This, will, in the interim entail the need to rehabilitate and upgrade the existing water supply and sewer infrastructure in major cities. To this end, the 2022 National Budget conditional grants of $2,1 billion will be availed to some urban and rural local authorities,” said Prof Ncube.
In Matabeleland only three local authorities comprising Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Gwanda benefitted from the Government grant.
Prof Ncube said Government has also prioritised water supply for small towns and growth points as part of measures to ensure balanced development, stimulate economic activity and development.
Colleen Bawn was allocated $146 million for the construction of sedimentation tank (50m3/hr) while Filabusi got $17 million for the completion of a new treatment plant (50m3/hr) and 500 m3 brick reservoirs as well as the upgrading of clear water pumps.
A total of $40 million was set aside for the rehabilitation of pumping units, upgrading of clear water pumping main and installation of elevated tanks at a booster station in Inyathi District, Matabeleland North.
Victoria Falls was allocated $33 million for the construction of a new treatment plant (100m3/hr) and 500m3/hr tank while Beitbridge got $56 million for the construction of a 20km pumping main from Beitbridge to Lutumba and 500m3 reservoir tank.
Prof Ncube said under the Road Development Programme tremendous progress has been achieved on the implementation of Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road with 255km having been completed to date.
He said judging by the current progress, 300km will be completed by December, with 560km now envisaged to be completed by 2023.
He also said work on the Beitbridge Border Post Modernisation project is progressing well, with Phase One works having been completed.
The first phase of the project covered the maintenance of buildings, road for light commercial vehicles, gate houses and civil works on the access routes, new freight terminal building, freight warehouse, tagging building, VID building facilities, pump house, and scanner building.
Prof Ncube said in 2022, consistent with the NDS1, Government interventions will continue to be centred on scaling up implementation of the Road Development Programme with priority being on the highly trafficked and congested networks, as well as increasing access and connectivity to marginalised and underserviced areas.
Focus will also be on ensuring commencement of works on the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport control tower with resources amounting to $500 million having been allocated for the project.
Other key notable interventions in Matabeleland include the rehabilitation of Gwanda State University (GSU), completion of stalled projects at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and Lupane State University (LSU). — @mashnets