MASVINGO – Government has again failed to meet its deadline to complete the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam project by end of November.
The project, dogged by severe financial constraints to complete construction and relocate villagers, has been under construction for over a decade.
The dam is supposed to end the water woes facing the province when completed.
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, minister of State Affairs in Masvingo, now says government will finish the project next year.
“We never said the project would be complete by end of November but we said the project would be near completion by end of November and will be completed in April next year,” he said.
Bhasikiti said the government was in the process of relocating villagers from some parts of Chivi to Nuanetsi ranch.
But the government is facing resistance from some villagers who refused to accept paltry sums of money given to them as compensation.
Villagers were each promised between $2 000 and $5 000 which some rejected saying it did not commensurate to the money they used to build their homes in the villages.
Government is struggling to raise about $19 million required to relocate over 4 000 families affected by the dam construction.
“We are not happy with the amount of money government is giving us for compensation of our houses,” said a villager who declined to be named.
“The money is too little and we will not move until they give us enough to rebuild our houses in Nuanetsi.”
The stand-off is cited as one of the reasons why government failed to meet its deadline.
Bhasikiti insisted that the relocation was going on well although villagers also insisted that the exercise was dogged by problems as some were resisting.
“We are relocating people and everything is going on well so as I said the deadline is April next year and we are going to meet it,” Bhasikiti insisted.
Several deadlines have been set by government since the beginning of the millennium but none has been met.
In the mid 2000, the project came to a complete halt after government failed to pay the Italian company constructing the dam, it was owed over 30 million Euros.
The dam is expected to become Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body with a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic meters with a flood area straddling over 9 600 hectares.