George Maponga in Masvingo
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) is on high alert over possible flooding downstream of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in southern Masvingo with an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter put on standby to airlift affected families as the water body nears spilling for the time since its construction.
Tugwi-Mukosi, Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam, was yesterday afternoon 89 percent full, raising prospects that it will spill in the next couple of days.
If the dam spills, there are fears that the already flooded Tugwi River, downstream of the reservoir, will burst its banks and affect adjacent communities in Chivi and Chiredzi.
The 1,8 billion cubic metres reservoir has been getting substantial inflows in the wake of incessant rains in the catchment area.
Muzhwi Dam, upstream in Chivi North, has also been releasing significant inflows into Tugwi-Mukosi downstream, after it started spilling over a month ago.
Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira said the province has started preparing for the worst as Tugwi-Mukosi Dam could spill.
He paid tribute to Government for putting a helicopter on standby to assist families who will likely be affected by flooding in the dam’s downstream areas.
“Tugwi-Mukosi water levels have been rising significantly over the past few weeks and the water level is now near 90 percent meaning the dam will likely spill in the coming few days hence the need to prepare our people in downstream areas in the event of flooding,” said Minister Chadzamira.
“We want to thank Government for giving us a helicopter which is now on standby to rescue and airlift families who might be affected by floods in Tugwi-Mukosi downstream areas in the event the dam eventually spills as is most likely to happen soon.”
Minister Chadzamira disclosed that CPU teams had been carrying out awareness campaigns to warn communities close to Tugwi and Runde River of the impending threat of flooding.
Tugwi River, downstream of Tugwi-Mukosi, is a tributary of Runde River and the two rivers are amongst the biggest in Masvingo province in terms of reach and magnitude of flow.
“We want to warn our people close to Runde and Tugwi Rivers in Chivi, Mwenezi and Chiredzi to be wary of floods and avoiding unnecessary movements and crossings as they might flood any times in the event Tugwi-Mukosi Dam spills.
This was corroborated by Chiredzi CPU head and district development coordinator Mr Lovemore Chisema who urged communities near the two big rivers to prepare for the worst in the coming few days.
Mr Chisema said families close to the two rivers should prepare to move to higher ground if disaster strikes.
“We have been doing awareness campaigns using our usual structures and I am happy that some of the people likely to be affected by floods have already started moving to higher ground while others are preparing to do so.”
We are in the process of coming up with a figure of people who might be affected by flooding in Runde and Tugwi but we hope to have the figure soon, we are still computing,” said Mr Chisema.
He said they had designated Chilonga Secondary School in Chikombedzi and Chingwizi Camp in Mwenezi as temporary shelters for families displaced by floods.
“We also appeal to our development partners to chip in, especially with tentage for families likely to be affected by flooding if Tugwi-Mukosi spills,” he said.