complete. The tender closing date was November 24 and it will be finalised at the end of year or early January,” Zinwa spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga told the media.
A tender for the construction of the pipeline was floated in April following a ground-breaking ceremony by Mnangagwa and it is only open to local companies.
Upon completion, the dam will have a capacity of 635 million cubic meters of water, making it the third biggest in-land dam in the country after Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi.
About 160 million cubic meters will supply Bulawayo, and the remainder for irrigation projects along the pipeline.
The project to pipe water from the mighty Zambezi River, 452km away to Bulawayo, was first mooted in 1912, but abandoned by successive governments due to the high costs involved.
There have been successive budget allocations from
the Treasury towards the project, with timelines set for its conclusion, but the project remains in its initial stages of implementation.
While the project is set to bring relief to Bulawayo and parts of Matabeleland North in terms of water supply, reports are that not everyone is celebrating.
Binga-Lubimbi villagers are crying foul that the project would lead to their displacement from their ancestral homes. About 2 422 people will be relocated to pave way for the construction of the giant water body.
Recently, Zinwa assured villagers that the dam bottom outlets would be closed to prevent risk of flooding.
“Zinwa conducted data capture exercises after marking the dams high flood level in 2018. The exercise identified the people and infrastructure such as power lines and roads that were within the high flood level zone and needed to be relocated,” Munyonga said.
“The information was forwarded to the ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, and Local Government
which are the relevant ministries for the relocation of affected people.
“The two ministries have since deployed their teams, which are on the ground evaluating the number of homesteads, roads, power lines, schools and other properties that fall within the high flood level in preparation for the relocation and the rerouting of roads and power lines.”
Munyonga added: “The dam is, however, not expected to start impounding water this season and has two openings at the bottom, each measuring 5m wide x 8m high to let the floods pass through the dam, hence there is no risk of people being flooded should the rainy season start.”
Government has said it has carried out an assessment on the value of the property to be affected by the expansion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Lubimbi to compensate the evictees in United States dollars.
Binga district development co-ordinator Farai Marinyame said government had crafted a mitigation strategy for the villagers.
“The government is on course. We crafted the provincial mitigation strategy,” he said.
But critics and Bulawayo residents doubt government’s sincerity to ensure completion of the project.
To many, any mention of the project is but a tale of broken promises.