Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
CONSTRUCTION of Vungu Dam in Silobela, Midlands province, which is set to irrigate 1 200 hectares for three schemes, and provide potable water to a local business centre, has commenced as the Second Republic steps up rural industrialisation through massive infrastructural development projects that leave no one and no place behind.
The construction of the major dam comes at a time when the Second Republic is constructing dams across the country to address water challenges and also climate-proof the agricultural sector which remains the mainstay of the country’s economy.
Through the provision of adequate water supplies—President Mnangagwa has made it his mission to make sure that Zimbabwe becomes food secure.
Such initiatives have already started to bear fruit as the current wheat crop, which is under irrigation, is expected to provide the nation with a 13 months cover, thereby reducing the country’s import bill and insulation against global shocks and conflicts that negatively impact international trade.
In Vungu, which will soon become another greenbelt, regardless of the season, Grindale Engineering, the contractor of the project, has started mobilising equipment, clearing the dam footprint and is in the process of stripping the area in a project being funded by the Government to the tune of US$87 million.
This is in line with President Mnangagwa’s thrust of rural industrialisation and modernisation, where locals will be employed in industries that will come with water and irrigation facilities.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on Lands and Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF) visited the project yesterday as part of its oversight role where they castigated the contractor for an apparent slow pace of the project.
In his brief, Zinwa acting chief executive officer, Engineer, Takudzwa Makwangudze said the project was expected to be completed in 36 months.
He said upon completion, the dam will irrigate 1 200 hectares comprising three different schemes in the area, provide potable water to Crossroads business centre and its surrounding community as well as establish a water treatment chemical plant.
“There will be three irrigation schemes under Chief Malisa and Sigodho which has about 1 200 hectares. On the provision of potable water we will set up a pipeline of about 25 kilometre,” said Eng Makwangudze. Chief Director in the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, Eng Tinayeshe Mutazu said the project will revolutionise the Silobela community.
During the tour, legislators expressed concern with the slow pace at which the project was being implemented.
Legislators noted that the contractor had covered two percent against an anticipated 10 percent.
Others asked about the track record of Grindale Engineering, the company that won the tender.
Legislators said the pace at which the contractor was mobilizing equipment was slow given the magnitude of the work at hand.
In an interview, Chief Malisa said he was excited by the project given that their area was arid.
“We have had successive droughts here in Silobela. We have lost livestock owing to persistent dry spells. With the coming of the dam, food security will now be certain, our livestock will now get water while our children will now get jobs because of construction works here,” said Chief Malisa.
Mrs Gertrude Maboleni said the project will revive their irrigation projects which they have only been carrying out during the rainy season.
“We will now carry our irrigation work all year round. It’s quite encouraging. Our life will now be transformed as better days are now beckoning,” she said.
Government has embarked on dam construction among other initiatives to reduce vulnerability to drought and boost production.
Other projects that have been completed and have started benefiting communities include Muchekeranwa in Mashonaland East province and Marovanyati in Manicaland province.
Others under construction include Kunzvi dam set to end Harare’s perennial water challenges and its surrounding community.