From George Maponga at NUANETSI RANCH, in Mwenezi
Government has thrown a lifeline to nearly 3 000 Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims after awarding a Chinese company a $12 million contract to clear land for the development of their irrigation plots at the vast Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi.
China Nanchang Engineering has already mobilised some of the equipment to start clearing 6 000 hectares of virgin land at Masangula section of Nuanetsi for the families displaced by Tokwe-Mukosi Dam.
The land clearing has been given top priority status by Government with work expected to start soon.
Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims have been staying on one-hectare plots at Nuanetsi after the disbanding of Chingwizi temporary camp where they stayed for over six months following their relocation from the flood basin in Chivi in 2014.
Development of irrigation plots for the flood victims will bring to an end a turbulent spell for the families who had been pressing Government to resettle them where they can also benefit from Tokwe-Mukosi Dam water upon completion.
When The Herald visited the land clearing site at Masangula recently, excavators, caterpillars and other land clearing equipment were on site together with Chinese personnel ready to start clearing the land.
China Nanchang Engineering director Mr Liangming Jin revealed that his company was ready to start work once given the nod to do so.
“We have mobilised most of our equipment which is now on site together with some of our personnel ready to start clearing land once Government has given us the go ahead. We will clear 6 000 hectares for irrigation,’’ he said.
“Part of the cleared land will also house infrastructure such as schools, clinics and we are also going to open roads that will service the area. The project will benefit families displaced by Tokwe-Mukosi Dam.’’ Mr Jin said his firm was ready to start work immediately adding that indications from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate were that Government was running around to mobilise the required funding.
Masvingo Provncial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa confirmed this yesterday.
She said the project was discussed in Cabinet recently where it was resolved that it be given top priority because of its importance.
“The report that I have is that the issue of land clearing for Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims at Masangula was discussed in Cabinet and the Ministry of Water (Environment and Climate) is actually seized with it so that work starts soon,’’ she said.
“Mobilisation of requisite funding is in full swing and we expect that work will commence soon for the benefit of the flood victims who will able to venture into irrigation once Tokwe-Mukosi Dam has been completed,’’ said Senator Mahofa.
Government had initially resolved to relocate Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims to seven farms that had been identified for them after their current location was deemed unfit for human habitation owing to the extreme aridity of the area and the small plot sizes.
However, the relocation seemed to have suffered a stillbirth amid reports of lack of clarity over the ownership status of some of the farms where the families are supposed to be resettled.