Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
DECENT houses are being built for 74 families affected by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) new power line in Matabeleland North with some having already moved into their new homes while the rest are expected to have done so by November.
This is part of the ongoing US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 expansion project which will result in an additional combined 600MW to the national grid.
The project includes construction of a new 400kv line that will run parallel to the existing lines on the 368km stretch where 875 transmission towers between Hwange and Insukamini outside Bulawayo are also being erected.
The stretch was divided into three sections: from Bulawayo to Lupane, Lupane to Gwayi and Gwayi to Hwange where engineers are busy erecting the towers among other construction work being done concurrently. Work on Unit 7 and 8 began in August 2018 following a groundbreaking ceremony by President Mnangagwa and work has been progressing despite challenges especially caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unit 7 is expected to be commissioned in November this year while Unit 8 is expected to be ready in February next year.
Affected communities should have been relocated by then. The project is being carried out by ZPC for Government and Sino Hydro.
Project manager Engineer Forbes Chanakira said construction of houses is underway and are at various stages with some families already having been handed their properties.
“The total number of houses is 74. There are 12 units that have been completed at Epping Forest near Nyamandlovu and the houses have been handed over. The 29 houses at Hyde Park (Mazwi Village) are under construction, 19 are at roof level and 10 are at window level. We have 19 houses at Hope Fountain and of the 19, nine are under construction for legally settled affected families and the houses are 95 percent completed,” said Eng Chanakira.
He said engagements are underway on the building of homes for the remaining 10 families in Hope Fountain.
There are seven houses each being built at Kloof and Stevenson farms.
These are on the verge of being handed over and this is likely to take place within a fortnight, said Eng Chanakira.
Six houses are being built at Gwayi siding, Chezhou and Chilanga in Hwange.
Eng Chanakira said contractors have been facing challenges with delivery of material.
Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo said the relocation model was in line with the Second Republic’s policy of leaving no one or place behind, as well as ensuring all citizens have decent housing, one of the tenets towards Vision 2030.
He confirmed the progress made so far.
“This is a very important development to people and as a province we are happy that no one will suffer loss but people are getting upgraded from their previous status to new and beautiful houses,” said Minister Moyo.
“Most houses have been built except for those for 10 families in Hope Fountain where there were challenges with land. The land has been found and building will proceed,” he said.
The Unit 7 and 8 expansion project will go down as one of the greatest achievements under the Second Republic as it implements the National Development Strategy (NDS1) towards attaining aspirations of Vision 2030.
President Mnangagwa in March commissioned the start of construction work on a 42km Deka water pipeline from Zambezi River, which is set to increase water supply to the power station from the current 3 500 cubic metres to 6 000 cubic metres per hour. — [email protected]