PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has assured Bulawayo residents that the city’s prevailing water challenges will be permanently addressed when Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is completed next year.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) last week announced that significant progress had been made in the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani and it would start collecting water in the 2021/22 rainy season.
Bulawayo and surrounding communities could start drawing water from it by the end of next year.
Government has already tasked six contractors with laying the 245km pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo and works should be completed by the end of next year.
The inflows will be regardless of missed deadlines for completion of the dam, which Government had set for year-end.
Due to limited supply of cement, the start of the rainy season and damage to one plant that was struck by lightning, the completion of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani project has been pushed for next year.
The lake, which has a holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, and pipeline project are major components of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which was first mooted in 1912, but had failed to take off under previous administrations.
Upon completion, the pipeline will carry 160 000 megalitres of water to Bulawayo daily, which will vastly improve water and sanitation requirements of the city. The water body is significant to the development trajectory of Matabeleland region as it will contribute towards attainment of food security, while providing drinking water to communities up to Bulawayo.
Addressing Bulawayo residents last Friday at Barbourfields Stadium after conducting the National Clean-up Campaign in Mzilikazi suburb in the city to mark the third anniversary of the programme, which he launched on December 5, 2018, President Mnangagwa said Government is prioritising the implementation of water projects, a critical component of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
“Bulawayo historically has a problem of water. My Government made a decision that this issue must be resolved once and for all and currently we have improved supply of water, but when the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project gets completed next year, there will be enough water for Bulawayo,” he said.
“We are also recruiting local companies to do the trenching from Gwayi to Bulawayo so that we put a pipeline that will bring water from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to Bulawayo with the plant here to purify water for drinking. We then look into other issues of development because we cannot be impeded by the issue of water which can resolved.”
President Mnangagwa said the local supply dams will be upgraded to improve their water holding capacity. Bulawayo has in the past few years been worst hit by water shortages due to reduced storage capacity of the dams supplying water to the city. Bulawayo’s water consumption is 155 megalitres per day.
“We have enough aquifer water in this area and other dams and they are all going to be upgraded so that we have overcapacity. We need to achieve overcapacity of water supply in Bulawayo.
“I have instructed the Finance Minister that funds are made available for this programme to succeed,” said President Mnangagwa.
In February, the President commissioned the Nyamandlovu Epping Forest Water Supply Augmentation Project for the City of Bulawayo which is now delivering 20 megalitres of water per day in the city as part of addressing persistent water challenges.
Epping Forest is one of the key projects undertaken by the Government to address critical water challenges in Bulawayo.
“However, it is not only Bulawayo that we are concerned with in terms of water supply. We are also concerned with the entire country. Challenges are many, but when addressing them you put them in categories of priorities and that is how we are working to develop this country,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said in line with the Second Republic’s decentralisation and devolution thrust, more funds will continue to be channelled towards provinces to fulfil the development agenda.
In the 2022 National Budget, Government allocated $42 billion to fund devolution projects countrywide, with local authorities in Matabeleland region getting over $7,1 billion.
In line with the country’s Constitution, Government through devolution is promoting the equitable economic development of the country’s regions.
Under the Government’s devolution agenda, a slice of the budget for capital development is handed over to local authorities. The reasoning is that the communities have definite priorities for their areas to develop.
“The problem of domestic challenges is no longer on the shoulders of Central Government, but now an issue of local administration. We have set aside $42 billion devolution funds, which translates to $4,2 billion for each province to use outside Central Government,” said President Mnangagwa.
“This is the Second Republic moving. We are building our country brick upon brick, stone upon stone.”
Devolution funds have resulted in far reaching transformation of communities around the country through rehabilitation and upgrading of education and health facilities, drilling of boreholes, upgrading of roads and water sources including treatment plants and sanitation facilities.