Byo mayor concerned about low budget for dams, pipelines

Bulawayo mayor, Councillor David Coltart, has voiced his apprehension regarding the Treasury’s insufficient financial allocation for the construction of dams and pipelines across the country.

Coltart said the ZWL$369 billion that the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube provided nationally in the national budget was inadequate as Bulawayo alone needs at least US$400 million for the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Pipeline.

When presenting the 2024 National Budget on Thursday in Parliament, the finance minister proposed ZWL$369 billion towards dam construction in Zimbabwe, with priority being the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which he said was at an advanced stage of completion. 

However, the Bulawayo Mayor said the allocation was “deeply concerning” as ZWL$369 billion equated to US$67 million. 

“The Gwayi Shangani to Bulawayo pipeline alone is expected to cost a minimum of US$400 million,” Coltart said, noting even if this amount was spent on Bulawayo’s project it will take six years to complete.

“Accordingly if every single cent of this budget allocation is applied to the pipeline alone it will still take almost six years to complete at this rate.”

The mayor added that “obviously” the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam will take “much longer because the ZWL$369 billion is the total applied for all dam projects.”

“Bulawayo simply cannot wait another decade or more ( to receive water),” Coltart said. 

Coltart said the city’s engineers “insist” that Bulawayo’s short-term water needs are best served by duplicating the pipelines from Insiza and Mtshabezi dams to Ncema purification works and building Glassblock Dam.

Building Glassblock Dam, according to the mayor,  will need half the cost of the Gwayi-Shangani/Bulawayo pipeline.

“I implore the Central Government to take what our engineers say seriously. We cannot afford to allow Bulawayo to run out of water when we have water supplies on our doorstep,” Coltart said. 

Coltart has painted a “pretty grim picture” of Bulawayo’s water situation that remains dire. 

Although the mayor said Bulawayo has a reasonable amount of water in Insiza and Mtshabezi Dams, the city urgently needs to duplicate the pipelines from those dams so that more of the water they hold is used.

“This is our immediate short-term priority,” said the mayor who noted that as of November 29, 2023, Bulawayo’s total supply dam storage was 44. 43 percent with a usable volume of 167, 651, 509 cubic centimetres. 

Below are the statistics for Bulawayo’s supply dams.

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