Lincoln Towindo and Richard Muponde
Construction of Kunzvi Dam, which began last week, coupled with expeditious works on Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland has set the country on course to decisively solve decades-long water shortages plaguing the country’s two biggest cities, Harare and Bulawayo.
China Nanchang was recently awarded the tender for Kunzvi Dam construction and moved on-site last week after a site handover, while contractors for the Gwayi-Shangani project are now on 24-hour working shifts to meet the deadline for completion by year-end.
The two mammoth projects, which have been on the cards for decades, are considered long-term solutions for perennial water shortages in the two major cities.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) chief executive officer, Engineer Taurayi Maurikira, told The Sunday Mail that construction of a pipeline that will convey water to Bulawayo will begin soon after “administrative issues” are sorted.
“Zinwa is doing everything in its power to help improve water provision in cities . . . Treasury allocated $4,5 billion towards the (Gwayi-Shangani) dam in the 2021 fiscal year, which should see the construction work through to completion,” Eng Maurikira said.
“Gwayi-Shangani Dam is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and is coming in as part of the long-term solutions to the perennial water challenges in the city of Bulawayo.
“A pipeline will connect the dam to Bulawayo, and the same pipeline will have provisions for several offtakes that will allow communities along its path to draw water for purposes of irrigation . . .
“Construction of the pipeline will be commencing soon once the current administrative issues are completed.”
Once completed, the dam, which lies at the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani Rivers in Matabeleland North Province, will become the country’s third-largest inland water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.
Eng Maurikira also said the construction of the water reservoir for Kunzvi Dam is expected to be “substantially complete” by 2023.
A new water treatment plant will be constructed east of the capital to service suburbs that have gone without water for years.
Water from the dam will also serve parts of Chitungwiza.
“Kunzvi Dam has always been touted as the solution to water challenges bedevilling Harare.
“The scope of work includes the construction of the water reservoir, which is expected to be substantially complete in 2023.
“The dam will then become an additional source of raw water for Harare, supplying mainly the eastern suburbs that have gone for many years without water because the city’s current water treatment infrastructure can no longer meet demand.
“Construction of the dam has started in earnest as the contractor is now on the ground following the award of the contract and the subsequent site handover to the contractor,” he added.
Government is also addressing water supply problems in smaller towns and rural service centres through rehabilitation of antiquated infrastructure and drilling thousands of boreholes.
Zinwa plans to drill over 35 000 new boreholes by 2025, with 1 800 expected to be drilled this year.
Siting is presently underway.
To expedite progress, the authority is buying 40 borehole drilling rigs, which will be delivered starting in November.
“These boreholes are expected to anchor the Presidential Horticultural Programme, which will, in turn, lead to the creation of village industrial centres in line with the rural industrialisation agenda.”
There is also an ongoing programme to rehabilitate and upgrade water treatment plants in smaller urban centres.
Government has identified water provision as a key enabler to improving livelihoods and establishing a prosperous society in line with Vision 2030.
A new Afrobarometer survey released last week identified water provision as a critical concern among Zimbabweans.
The research concluded that the economy, education, infrastructure/roads, unemployment and water provision were five of the critical areas that people want addressed.