THE Department of Civil Protection (DCP) and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) have warned communities living near Lake Mutirikwi to be on high alert ahead of the expected spilling of the dam within the next 48 to 72 hours.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, DCP acting chief director Nathan Nkomo said relevant bodies are putting in place necessary measures to reduce the impact of the spilling.
He emphasised the importance of alerting the downstream communities.
“It is after a very long time since Lake Mutirikwi has spilled and we are decentralising through various sub national structures including our district development coordinator so they are on alert.
“People are a bit busy because of the Uhuru celebrations but definitely all the downstream communities must be alerted within the next 48 hours,” he said.
Nkomo added that everything possible should be done to ensure that people’s lives are safe as dam spillages are unpredictable.
“The risk cannot be minimum because loss of one life is a big loss to us and the nation, which is why I am emphasising the need to forewarn the people before the expiry of the 48-hour lead time given by Zinwa.
“People in the area do not need to evacuate but they must always be aware that anytime anything can happen, especially if their homesteads are close to the river. They should make sure their animals are safe as we do not want people to lose their livestock.
“We do not want people to cross flooded rivers because the temptation is very big especially when we are celebrating our independence as people will cross rivers going to celebrations,” he said.
This comes as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has also warned that the spilling of Lake Mutirikwi could affect infrastructure near the water body.
“We wish to advise stakeholders and communities downstream of Lake Mutirikwi that due to the rains received upstream of the lake in the past days, the lake is expected to start spilling in the next 48 to 72 hours should the current inflows continue.
“Zinwa is working with the Masvingo Provincial Civil Protection Unit and other structures on the ground, has placed communities downstream of the lake on high alert and continues to create the necessary awareness to mitigate the impact of the anticipated spilling.
“Water levels in the lake have risen to 98.9 percent. Communities downstream are advised not to cross flooded rivers and to ensure that any water abstraction equipment along river channels is removed or properly secured,” Zinwa said.