Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT will be assessing progress at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North on a monthly basis to ensure that contractors meet the December target.
The construction of the dam is expected to be completed in December this year with the 245km pipeline that connects the dam to Bulawayo set to be completed in 2022. Government has allocated $535 million towards the commencement of the pipeline.
Construction works at Gwayi-Shangani Dam resumed last month after Chinese engineers contracted to the project returned to the country a year after being held in the Asian nation due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The Gwayi-Shangani dam construction is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) which upon completion is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.
It is also expected to create an irrigation greenbelt for communities in Matabeleland North.
The Gwayi-Shangani Dam construction and completion have been made a top priority this year, with Government allocating $4,5 billion towards the project.
The project has three phases – the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, the construction of a pipeline from the dam to Bulawayo and another pipeline which will draw water from the Zambezi River
In an interview after touring the dam site to assess progress last Friday, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka said the project is on course.
“My visit to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam was to ascertain progress in the construction of that dam. The progress that I saw there during my visit is that indeed we are on target and if resources are availed on time, we will be able to complete this project this side of the year,” he said.
President Mnangagwa recently officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the pipeline in Nyamandlovu where he pledged that the project which is the solution to Bulawayo water shortages and was first mooted in 1912, will be completed under his administration.
“In February, the President launched the augmented water supply at Epping Forest in Nyamandlovu and also did a ground breaking ceremony for the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline. We said by December next year that pipeline will be delivering water to Bulawayo and this can only happen once the dam is finished, and it must be completed by December this year,” said Dr Masuka.
He said Government is also looking at how villagers who will be affected by the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo water pipeline will benefit from the envisaged irrigation schemes.
Dr Masuka said a few people will be affected by the construction of the water pipeline as it will be traversing very close to the existing railway line where there are very few properties.
“More importantly, we also had a discussion about the other components of this project and irrigation being a major one, the 10 000 hectares that we envisage irrigating, the resettlement of the people that are affected by that dam project so that they too can begin benefitting from the irrigation schemes that are coming,” he said.
A detailed survey report for the project, which will be out after two months, will provide more clarity on any movement of people along the pipeline route, which is expected to be very minimal.
“We also looked at the power that the dam is capable of generating and therefore it is one of the projects that we were looking at. It was a more holistic aspect and we resolved that from now till December, we will be visiting the project on a monthly basis to ensure that they stay on target,” said the minister.
The dam, with a holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, and pipeline project are major components of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which was first mooted in 1912, but failed to take off under the Rhodesian [email protected]