From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has sealed a $7 million agreement for the contractor at Tokwe-Mukosi Dam to start civil works on the planned mini-hydro power plant that will generate electricity at the recently completed dam. The agreement signed between Government and the Italian contractor Salini Impregilo will see the firm carrying out excavation works on the power house, where the hydro-power plant will be installed.
The entire project will gobble about $20 million, with the plant expected to generate 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to light up the whole of Masvingo.
Since the start of the current rainy season, Tokwe-Mukosi Dam has collected 1,15 billion cubic metres of water, which translates to about 62 percent full.
Zinwa resident engineer at the dam, Eng Paul Dengu refused to give more details on the power plant deal.
“All I can say is that an agreement was reached for Salini to start excavation works on the power house where the power plant will be installed and the work has already started and will take about three months to complete,’’ he said.
Sources said Government chose Salini to carry excavation works for the power plant so that the firm would take liability for any collateral damage to the dam that might be caused by the excavation works.
“Salini will simply build the power house so that if their excavation activities affect the dam through tremors and other unforeseen defects, the firm will be liable,” said a source. “The contract to install the real power plant will be given to a different firm altogether.’’
Power generated at Tokwe-Mukosi Dam will be fed into the national grid and boost overall electricity output in the country with Government having signed several deals to ramp up power production to meet surging demand.
Besides generating power, the dam – wholly funded by Government to the tune of $265 million is also expected to turn southern parts of Masvingo into perennial green belts, as Tokwe-Mukosi will have capacity to irrigate more than 25 000 hectares.
A national park is also planned around the dam with wildlife expected to be trans-located from other over-crowded habitats.
Sugar cane production in the Lowveld is also expected to jump by a minimum 15 percent, thanks to Tokwe-Mukosi Dam water.