The Sunday Mail
Despite limited outlays for capital projects from Treasury, Government is plowing ahead with the construction of three key dams – Gwayi-Shangani Dam (Matabeleland North), Sengwa (Mashonaland Central) and Marowanyati Dam (Manicaland) – with the latter project, which is now 78 percent complete, expected to begin impounding water in the current rain season.
Further, the construction of a 10,5-kilometre access road to Tugwi-Mukosi Dam is now 98 percent complete.
Most of these key infrastructure development projects are being bankrolled through Government’s Public Sector Investment Project (PSIP).
The new political administration, which is pushing a predominantly agro-centric economic growth plan, envisages that the construction of new water bodies will help food-insecure communities through providing water for irrigation and fish from Command Fisheries.
Presently, there is a deliberate effort to move from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.
Electricity will also be generated from some of the projects.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga told The Sunday Mail last week that work is still ongoing at the dam sites.
“Work is also progressing quite well at Marowanyati Dam in Buhera. The $33 million dam, which is now at an advanced stage of completion, is set to impound water in the upcoming rainy season. The dam is now 78 percent complete. When complete, Marowanyati Dam is expected to provide water for domestic needs for the expanding Murambinda Growth Point. It is also set to provide water for Dorowa Mine and irrigation water for surrounding communities,” said Mrs Munyonga.
“Ongoing work at the dam includes the backfilling of the upstream of the river section of the dam’s embankment and right bank, grouting of the right bank core trench and excavations of spillways. Testing of the earth fill for compliance with set specifications is also under way,” she said.
Dorowa Mine produces phosphate, which is used in the manufacture of fertiliser.
With a storage capacity of 50 million litres, Marowanyati Dam has the capacity to supply water for domestic and industrial use, including irrigating 3 650 hectares.
Overall, Government plans to put 200 hectares of land under irrigation in all the country’s 63 districts (12 600 hectares).
According to Mrs Munyonga, significant progress has also been recorded in the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which is now 33 percent complete.
Upon completion, it will become the third-largest inland water body in Zimbabwe after Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi.
“The dam has the capacity to generate six megawatts (MW) of power and is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and is being constructed at a cost of $121,7 million. The dam will provide irrigation water for surrounding communities and is also aimed at addressing Bulawayo’s perennial water shortages.
“Ongoing works at the project include blasting of holes at the outlets’ excavations, removal of blasted material and the crushing of concrete aggregates of different sizes for use in the construction. Also in progress is the marking of the dam basin’s reservation areas.
“The identification of sites for the installation of gauging stations on both the upstream and downstream of the river is now complete,” she said.
During his visit to Matabeleland North on April 27 last year, President Mnangagwa indicated that Government is targeting to complete the dam by next year.
Sengwa Dam in Rushinga, Mashonaland Central, is also 30 percent complete.
It is believed that upon completion, the dam has the potential to irrigate 12 000 hectares and supply water to both Rushinga and Mount Darwin districts.
Authorities are also upbeat about the developments that are currently taking place at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, where a 10,5-kilometre access road to the country’s biggest inland is now 98 percent complete.
About $7 million was used for the exercise.
Said Mrs Munyonga: “The surfacing of the road is now complete and only minor works remain. These include the erection of road signs, carriageway markings, masonry works to protect slopes on bridge embankments and the demobilisation of the concrete crushing plant.
“The completion of the road is set to bring convenience to tourists and other people interested in visiting the giant water body. It will also pave way for other developments at the 1,8 billion cubic metre dam.”
Government, through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, which has been roped in by Government to identify bankable projects, is presently scouting for 25 000 hectares that can be irrigated from the dam.
Already, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has stocked the reservoir with 100 000 fingerlings that are meant to support a kapenta fishing project.
Experts say the decision to exploit the country’s water bodies is likely to have massive spin-offs for the local economy.
Gwayi-Shangani, Tugwi-Mukosi, Sengwa and Marowanyati dams are forecast to help put a cumulative 40 650 hectares under production.