Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has increased the number of contractors that will lay the 245km pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo to eleven to ensure water is pumped to the city by the end of this year.
There were initially six contractors that had been awarded the contract.
Each contractor has been given at least 21km to work on.
Construction of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani is among the Government’s major priorities and is expected to be completed this year after missing last year’s deadline.
Zinwa contracted a Chinese company to construct the dam with a holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres.
This is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) to bring water from Zambezi River to Bulawayo to permanently address the city’s water challenges.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka yesterday toured Lake Gwayi-Shangani to assess progress made so far.
After the tour, he expressed confidence that by December, Bulawayo would be drawing water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani in line with set deadlines.
“Progress has been made and Zinwa has indicated to us that the dam wall is now 90 metres high, but can’t start impounding water now because they do not want to interrupt the water works.
But they will be doing so at the end of February and we will have 20 million cubic metres to be able to supply when we want to,” said Dr Masuka.
He was satisfied that surveying of how the pipeline will move along the railway line had commenced and laying of the pipeline will create employment for locals.
“Eleven contractors will probably be on site by March so that we can complete all works in time for the commissioning by December.
The treatment works in Cowdray Park would have been done.
Each of the 11 contractors has 21km to do and they will be able to employ locals because this is civil works.
We will only know the numbers when the contractors are on site, but this will have a significant local economic impact,” said Dr Masuka.
He said Government will create an irrigation greenbelt along the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline, which will trigger rural industrialisation.
The irrigation schemes will be community owned and the Agricultural Rural Development Agency (Arda) will manage them.
He said the first beneficiaries of the irrigation schemes are those that will be relocated due to the expansive work of the project.
“We also had an opportunity to discuss in detail the proposed irrigation, which will be of two types.
The first one will be a Vision 2030 accelerator model where we are looking at something similar to Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme.
We would be looking at five different sites and the first one is around the dam where there is going to be displacement of between 400 and 700 families.
These households will become the first beneficiaries of the irrigation that is going to be taking place,” he said.
“As we convey water to Bulawayo, we now have five pumping points at which we are going to do irrigation.
We are looking at, at least 200 hectares for each pumping station again using the Vision 2030 accelerator model, which will be co-managed by Arda for the benefit of the community leading to rural development for facilitation of the attainment of Vision 2030.”
He said a fisheries project will also be started along the pipeline to benefit communities.
Dr Masuka said in line with the dam construction plan, a hydro-power station will be built on the dam site.
“We looked at electricity generation and options that are available and they have started the trenching.
So, works are progressing to our satisfaction and we will be on course for the commissioning and conveying water to Bulawayo alongside irrigation development here and along the way as well as electricity generation,” said Dr Masuka.
“I’m very pleased with the progress that Zinwa and the rest of the team are making.
We have made an undertaking that we will invite all ministries and departments that are involved in our next visit so that we can co-ordinate the implementation better.” – @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle