LANDS minister Anxious Masuka says the government has adopted an integrated approach in constructing the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which will see all ministries putting their hands on deck.
The project, which started in 2003, has been facing serious financial challenges over the years, amid claims the Chinese contractor — China International Water and Electric Corporation (CIWE) — was owed millions of dollars by the government dating back to 2018.
“We were coming in individually as ministers, but we felt that based on the Tugwi-Mukosi experience we needed a change of government approach because a lot of ministries are involved in this effort.
“We have the minister of Local Government looking at the governance issues because we are going to be irrigating 10 000 hectares … We are looking at the relocation of 42 or so families that will be impacted, so we require the Local Government. We have the minister of Environment to look at the environmental issues not just around here but upstream and maintenance of the catchment so that we can eliminate all the siltation that is associated with many of our dams,” Masuka said.
This comes as the government revealed that the treasury was set to release $2, 2 billion next month to speed up the completion of the massive project by December.
“We have the minister of National Housing because again the relocated people will require structures and now we are looking at modernising. We think that as we put this irrigation infrastructure there would be a rural development node so again his ministry will be heavily involved.
“Of course, we have the provincial minister to be able to take him on board and share with the local communities the integration of this project. In the past we just looked at a dam then the other functions but now we are saying the project is not the dam but an enabler,” Masuka added.
Once complete, the multi-million dollar project is envisaged to end Bulawayo’s perennial water challenges, while creating a greenbelt along its 240km path.
The dam will have a net holding capacity of 650 million cubic metres of water, which is 1,8 times bigger than the combined capacity of Bulawayo’s present supply from five dams.
Bulawayo has grappled with water shortages for years, which intensified as a result of recurring drought, with the city facing its worst crisis in 2019.
The dam will be the third-largest man-made inland water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.
“So this dam is an enabler for Bulawayo to have sufficient water which is why we have started tendering for the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline. This dam is going to generate 10MW of electricity, so we are already discussing that. By the time we complete the generation will have taken place,” he said.