Thousands of families downstream of the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam wall that partially collapsed yesterday due to heavy rains risk being swept away by rising waters, prompting Government to deploy more than 20 vehicles to relocate those in imminent danger. Government is on high alert after rising water levels caused a partial collapse of the dam wall, endangering over 2 000 families in the reservoir flood basin.
After touring the dam yesterday, Masvingo Provincial Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said, “There is high danger that if water continues to rise the dam wall can crack and flood thousands of people and property downstream.
“We are still mobilising resources to evacuate the families and ensure that they have make-shift shelter and food. We have managed to secure tents from humanitarian organisations.”
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo urged communities downstream of Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam to move at least two kilometres from Tokwe River. Masvingo’s provincial leadership appealed to Government for US$9 million to evacuate endangered families in the flood basin. The families are being moved to the Chingwizi area of Nuanetsi Ranch. The CPU said in a statement on Monday that areas likely to be affected included Ngundu, Gororo, Nyahombe, Tokwane and Triangle.
“Communities downstream of the Tokwe-Mukrosi Dam along Tokwe River and its tributaries are at risk of flooding and must take necessary precautions to avoid danger,” Minister Chombo said.
At least 400 families needed to be evacuated immediately and a further 4 000 would be moved in due course, the Minister said.
In a statement, national police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said: “The ZRP is appealing to people residing in low-lying areas, in particular those settled along the Tokwe River, south of Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam wall, to move to higher ground with urgency.
“The Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam wall has been damaged and has shifted slightly because of the increasing water levels which have risen above the dam’s normal carrying capacity.” After touring the Tokwe-Mukorsi flood basin on an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter on Monday, chairperson of the relocation co-ordinating committee and Masvingo provincial administrator Mr Felix Chikovo said 300 families needed urgent evacuation. Mr Chikovo warned that relocations would be hampered by the continuing rains.
Tokwe-Mukorsi will have capacity to hold 1,8 billion cubic litres of water on completion. The dam wall will measure 89m and the total project cost is US$155 million. Salini Impregilio, an Italian company, is the main contractor. Already, 23 houses on Marriot Ranch in Mwenezi have collapsed following incessant rains in southern Masvingo.
Masvingo deputy provincial administrator Mr Goden Chipika yesterday said the houses in Chindundu Village were largely built with poles and dagga.
“The heavy rains have been falling in the area since last week and some non-governmental organisations such as Red Cross are assisting the affected people with tents for temporary shelter,’’ he said.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation in areas where heavy rains continue to fall to make sure there is no loss of life and property.
“In Mwenezi, most homes were built using poles and dagga which makes them susceptible to collapsing in the event of too much rain.’’ Government and humanitarian organisations have started delivering tents to shelter victims of flooding in Masvingo.