George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
At least 250 families in Chiredzi will probably have to move from the banks of Runde River once Tugwi-Mukosi Dam spills, allowing the Tugwi River to flow unimpeded into Runde.
By end of yesterday, Zimbabwe’s largest interior dam located in Chivi South near Ngundu Growth Point was almost 92 percent full with heavy rains in the catchments of the Tugwi and Mukosi rivers and the rivers flowing strongly into the lake.
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) is already on high alert preparing for the worst, with an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter on standby to airlift families who might be trapped.
Spilling at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam will increase water volumes in Tugwi River downstream of the dam, which in turn will also deposit water into Runde River, leading to possible flooding.
There is also a big possibility of back flow into Tugwi River as the Runde River is already in flood, a situation that might affect communities around the confluence of the two rivers.
Chiredzi CPU chair and district development coordinator Mr Lovemore Chisema said the threat of floods in Runde River owing to spilling of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam was fast becoming a reality.
According to Mr Chisema, spilling of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam will affect many families in Chiredzi North, Chiredzi South and Chiredzi East constituencies.
“We have at least 250 families living along the banks of Runde River who will have to be temporarily moved if Tugwi-Mukosi spills because it means Tugwi River will be releasing more water into Runde,” he said.
“We have already started preparing for the worst.
“From our own investigations, it appears trouble will start brewing at the confluence of Runde and Tugwi rivers because when we combine volumes of water in the two big rivers. We are certainly going to see Runde bursting its banks and flooding adjacent homes and crop fields.”
The floods were likely to hit hard communities in Ward 6 of Chiredzi East, Ward 7 in Chiredzi South, which includes areas around Chilonga, and Ward 16 in Chiredzi North.
Mr Chisema said the ongoing heavy rains were making it impossible to access some areas near Runde River to establish the extent of flood threats.
Temporary shelter for those that will be affected by Runde River floods have been identified at Chingwizi camp and Chilonga Secondary School.
“We have also been in touch with our development partners such as Red Cross to help with tents and other materials so they are on standby to offer assistance if the worst happens,” said Mr Chisema.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira on Tuesday thanked Government for putting an AFZ helicopter on standby in the event that Tugwi-Mukosi Dam spilled.
He warned villagers in downstream areas not to cross or stay near rivers now running in flood.
The CPU has been doing awareness campaigns, urging communities along Tugwi and Runde rivers to be on high alert.
Tugwi-Mukosi Dam is set to spill for the first time in the coming few weeks, an historic event since commissioning in May 2017.
The 1,8 billion cubic metre dam can irrigate nearly 40 000 hectares and is situated at the confluence of Tugwi and Mukosi rivers that separate Masvingo and Chivi districts.
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