BCC to construct new treatment plant for Gwayi-Shangani water

The City of Bulawayo may have to construct a new treatment plant to purify water pumped from the Gwayi-Shangani dam, CITE has learnt.

This was revealed during a Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project water and service delivery indaba held last week Thursday at the Large City Hall where Bulawayo Town Clerk, Christopher Dube, questioned how water from Gwayi-Shangani was going to be purified.

The completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and pipeline in Matabeleland North is touted as the answer to Bulawayo’s current severe water crisis.

China International Water and Electric Corporation was awarded the project construction in 2003.

Zimbabwe National Water Revenue Authority (ZINWA) resident engineer of the project, Paul Dengu, said construction of the dam currently stands at 59 percent, citing funding as the major obstacle.

“Records show the project was started in 1912 but funding has been the challenge. Technically we are on top of it but funding challenges are a concern, It’s only $120 million but it takes 20 years to get that sometimes. We are ready to go, we are here, let’s do what we can,” he said during his presentation.

Dengu added that tendering to construct the pipeline was on course.

“We were tasked to do the pipeline as ZINWA by the government, so far we have advertised tenders for the construction of the pipeline, intending to divide contractors for the 252km. The first attempt was in April and no one supplied, as the cost of the pipeline is huge so we are going the GPR way,” he said.

“As for the design of the pipeline, we have invited the National University Science and Technology and other players to come in with ideas on the final design. There are still challenges of procurement but for the design we have a lot of options. Proposals from all players are allowed. We are not stuck to anything and we are allowed to incorporate anyone who has better ideas on the pipeline.”  

After Dengu’s presentation, the town clerk inquired what purification plans were there to purify the water from Gwayi-Shangani Dam once complete.

“From the project, as a City, we have always been asking questions, which the engineers were unable to explain. What about purification? How is water going to be purified? How is it going to come to Bulawayo, that is one phase which is very critical,” he said.

The ZINWA resident engineer concurred water purification was critical but implied that the City of Bulawayo should prepare to construct its own treatment plant.

“I agree with you town clerk, this is very critical. Obviously, water has to be clean enough for consumption. The treatment plant was not part of the pipeline project, it was going to be transferred to the council. The treatment plant should be part of the project but being undertaken by Bulawayo,” Dengu said.

“We are not the owners of the project and Bulawayo can be the engineer of the treatment plant because the requirements are specific to Bulawayo, I think that would be the way forward.”

In response, the town clerk said if that was the case, the government and ZINWA must be ready to also provide funding assistance for the cause.

“If we are talking of a new treatment plant, it will require quite a lot of money and therefore we would want through ZINWA and the government to have something ready for us because this is something very critical.  In such a project surely that connection should be planned,” Dube stated.

Dube noted that without a treatment plant to purify the water, Bulawayo residents would still be unable to access water.  

The ZINWA resident engineer said more planning was needed between them and the council for a possible way forward.

The Gwayi-Shangani dam will be the third-largest man-made inland water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.

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