From George Maponga recently at Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in CHIVI
Construction work at the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi had to be stopped for two days last week, after one worker was killed, while two others sustained serious injuries after a crane that was carrying them overturned in a suspected mechanical fault. The three workers were rushed to Triangle’s Collin Saunders Hospital, where one died a few hours after admission, while the condition of the other two was said to be critical.

The injured pair was airlifted to Harare where they are admitted in hospital. This was after Government had moved in to clear its 12 million euro arrears with the Italian contractor building the dam.

The timely intervention enabled Salini Impregilo to continue working after the firm had threatened to down tools. There were fears that work at the dam was going to stop after the contractor gave notice to do so demanding payment of arrears for work done at the dam.

The dam will become Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam upon completion. Sources at the dam told The Herald that construction work would undergo a two-day hiatus in the wake of the fatal accident.

“Work stopped today (Wednesday) after the crane accident, which claimed one life and injured two others and tomorrow (Thursday) there will be no work again to allow the police and NSSA officials to carry out investigations into the accident. However, we have been told that construction will resume on Friday,” said a Salini employee who refused to be named.

Salini Project manager at Tokwe-Mukosi Mr Urbano Luzi could not be reached for comment. Zinwa resident engineer at the dam Engineer Paul Dengu refused to comment. “I am not allowed to speak to the press, but all I can say is that work on the dam is going on according to plan,’’ said Engineeer Dengu.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula could also not be reached for comment. Sources at the dam said Salini had initially given notice to stop work at the dam on September 4 citing delays in settlement of arrears by Government.

The planned shutdown did not materialise after Government swiftly intervened and effected payment following a visit to the dam by a team led by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Mr Willard Manungo last month.

Zinwa corporate communications and marketing officer Mr Tsungirirai Shoriwa yesterday confirmed that Government had settled its arrears with Salini, averting the planned work stoppage.

He said the dam was now 96 percent complete, adding that the dam would be able to impound water beginning the current rainy season. ‘’Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam is 96 percent complete and is scheduled for completion before end of the year, and Government has availed resources to ensure that we impound water at the dam during this coming rainy season,’’ said Mr Shoriwa.

Tokwe-Mukosi is billed as the panacea to recurrent droughts in Masvingo as the dam will turn vast swathes of land in southern Masvingo into a perennial greenbelt that will make the province Zimbabwe’s breadbasket.

The dam will also spur tourism growth and generate about 15 megawatts of power, enough to light up the whole of Masvingo while increasing annual sugar cane production in the Lowveld by 15 percent.

Government is wholly funding the $255 million dam project whose construction started in 1998, but was delayed in the wake of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium.

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