MATABELELAND is poised for economic growth as Government has stepped up efforts to commission the huge Gwayi-Shangani Dam and associated pipeline to Bulawayo before the end of next year.
It is envisaged that once complete, the dam and pipeline will give Bulawayo adequate raw water to develop as well as benefit the districts of Binga and Lupane, along with communities along the pipeline.
Bulawayo has grappled with water shortages for years, with these intensifying in the double droughts that saw the city in 2019 coping with probably its worst water shortage in history.
Climate change has seen falling water levels at the city’s supply dams, almost all in dry Matabeleland South.
Government has activated the plans to build the giant dam and lay the pipeline and its pumping stations.
The dam will have a net holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, which is 1,8 times bigger than the combined capacity of Bulawayo’s present five supply dams.
Government has this year allocated $4,5 billion towards Gwayi-Shangani Dam project and has since floated a tender for survey works for the 260km water pipeline route from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to Bulawayo.
President Mnangagwa is set to officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline and commissioning the Epping Forest boreholes in Nyamandlovu tomorrow.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has completed the drilling and equipping of 10 boreholes at Epping Forest in Nyamandlovu.
The boreholes were identified as one of the short-term solutions to the perennial water challenges in Bulawayo with an additional 10 megalitres per day being delivered to the city.
In August last year, President Mnangagwa reaffirmed the Second Republic’s commitment to solving water problems affecting Bulawayo, further directing that a three-phased budget be immediately presented to his office for approval.
In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said once the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and pipeline are complete, it will have a significant economic impact in Matabeleland region.
“We are very excited about the ongoing developments in our region, which will have a positive impact on the growth of our economy,” he said.
“The President will officiate at the ground breaking ceremony for the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline, which is a reflection of his commitment to finalising outstanding projects.
“The pipeline will transform the entire area along its route into a greenbelt with several irrigation schemes being set up between Bulawayo and the dam as communities staying along the pipeline will have access to water for irrigation.
“This is a very significant project in the sense that it will alleviate poverty and starvation among rural communities and permanently address the perennial water challenges in Bulawayo.”
Minister Moyo added that the project will create employment for local people, particularly in the construction industry.
Government last week approved the principles of the proposed Zimbabwe Construction Industry Council Bill, 2019.
The Bill will provide for the recognition of the disadvantaged and marginalised members of society, including women and the youth, war veterans and the physically challenged, to participate in locally-funded projects up to a certain threshold without compromising on quality of materials and workmanship.
“There will be a lot of employment, especially for youths as it is Government policy that whenever there is a project in a particular area, locals should benefit in terms of employment opportunities.
“To us this project is certainly a game changer as our communities will tremendously benefit,” he said.
Minister Moyo said Bulawayo being the country’s industrial hub, needs a lot of water hence the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project will accelerate industrial growth.
The dam, set to be Zimbabwe’s third largest interior water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi both in Masvingo Province, is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
Government is implementing the water project in three phases. Phase one is the ongoing construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and phase two is construction of the 260km pipeline and pumping stations linking the dam to Bulawayo.
The third phase is the construction of the bulk water abstraction infrastructure on the Zambezi River and a second pipeline linking this to the Gwayi-Bulawayo pipeline.
Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni thanked President Mnangagwa for his commitment to solving the water crisis in the city.
Last year, Treasury availed $205 million towards resolving the water situation in Bulawayo with $130 million used to rehabilitate and drill 30 boreholes in Nyamandlovu including the Epping Forest Project while the rest was channelled towards improving supplies from Mtshabezi Dam.
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