Govt changes tact on Gwayi-Shangani dam project

By Tinashe Mungazi

The government says it has adopted an integrated approach to the Gwayi-Shangani dam construction project by holistically involving other relevant stakeholders during planning and implementation to avoid the Tugwi-Mukosi shortcomings.

The construction of the Tugwi-Mukosi dam was riddled with delays, which were, blamed on poor planning and implementation by ZINWA, cash flow constraints, corruption and incompetence on the part of some contractors. Four years on, the water from the country’s largest inland water body has not been utilized.

Speaking in an interview at the sidelines of a tour of the dam construction yesterday, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka said lessons drawn from the construction of the Tugwi-Mukosi dam project had forced them to change approach.

“We were coming in individually as ministers but we felt that based on the Tugwi-Mukosi experience we needed a change of government approach because a lot of ministries are involved in this effort. We have the minister of Local Government looking at the governance issues because we are going to be irrigating 10 000ha, which might require exertion. We are looking at the relocation of 42 or so families that will be impacted so that is local government. We have the Minister of Environment look at the environmental issues not just around here but upstream and maintenance of the catchment so that we can eliminate all the siltation that is associated with many of our dams.

We have the minister of National Housing because again the relocated people will require structures and now we looking at modernizing. We think that as we put this irrigation infrastructure there would be a rural development node so again his ministry will be heavily involved.  Of course, we have the minister for the province to be able to take him on board and seam with the local communities the integration of this project in the past we just looked at a dam then the other functions but now we are saying the project is not the dam but an enabler,” said Dr Masuka.

He said with the construction of a 10MW hydropower plant to power the engines pumping water to Bulawayo the irrigation scheme functions which would be implemented concurrently were expected to be operational next year.

“So this dam is an enabler for Bulawayo to have sufficient water which is why we have started tendering for the Gwayi- Shangani- Bulawayo pipeline. This dam is going to generate 10MW of electricity so we are already discussing that by the time we complete the generation will have taken place. There will be 10 000ha irrigated so by the time we complete we think that from mid next year we will actually be irrigating. So this is the integrated approach that we are looking at that’s why there is this whole of government approach.”

Dr Masuka said the visit was meant to come up with a master plan as part of monitoring and inspection exercise meant to ensure set timelines met.

“This integrated way of looking at things will allow us to sequence scenes so that other ancillary activities associated with the dam will happen concurrently. This will also allow Treasury to have this holistic approach to the project financing is made available and accountable. So we visited to do inspection and monitoring but more importantly to set in motion a formal process that allows us to develop an integrated master plan for Lake Gwayi-Shangani. “

The dam construction is expected to be completed by December 2021 while the 245km pipeline to Bulawayo is set to be ready in 2022.

Treasury is set to release $2,2 billion next month to speed up the completion of the massive project. The envisaged master plan will incorporate other economic activities such as tourism, infrastructure development, agriculture and food security among other things.

The tour was attended by a delegation consisting of ministers of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, National Housing, Environment, Finance, Local Government and State for Provincial Affairs.

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