Mashudu Netsianda-Bulawayo Bureau
BULAWAYO has started work on ensuring that when adequate water supply arrives by pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani, around the end of next year, there will be the necessary extra water treatment and distribution ready and waiting.
The expanded infrastructure will enhance feeding of water from Magwegwe Reservoir into Criterion Water Treatment Works, which will enhance distribution of treated water to critical areas across the city. Criterion Water Treatment Works is the nerve centre of the city’s water treatment and distribution.
The New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa is spearheading the construction of the dam and pipeline first mooted in 1912, but which had failed to take off under previous successive administrations.
Now the dam is being built and a 245km pipeline linking Lake Gwayi-Shangani and Bulawayo is being laid.
Both projects are expected to create wider economic opportunities and spur increased development in the entire region.
Government has pledged commitment to ensure timely project completion to ensure reliable water supply to Bulawayo for the next 80 years.
As Bulawayo switches to Gwayi-Shangani water, some of the small supply dams it has been using in Matabeleland South will be switched to supplying the largely rural province.
On Friday, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube toured the Lake Gwayi-Shangani site together with a team from the Bulawayo City Council and expressed satisfaction with progress and work covered so far.
She said the massive project will add economic impetus to the city and help it reclaim its status as the country’s industrial hub.
Adequate water security is one of the critical enablers to investment attractiveness and in the past years the business community in Bulawayo has raised concern over erratic water supplies, caused by not enough raw water in supply dams.
“I’m quite delighted with what the Government under the Second Republic is doing as far as the Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is concerned,” said Minister Ncube.
“As Bulawayo, I am now optimistic that we will soon start attracting necessary investment in the city, which should restore Bulawayo to its former status of being Zimbabwe’s industrial hub in line with the desire by the Government to transform the country into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
“The purpose of my visit was to appreciate the ongoing works and what is on the ground is amazing. I am impressed with the work that has been done so far.”
Minister Ncube said through Lake Gwayi-Shangani, local industries are set to be revived as adequate water supply was a pull factor to potential investors.
“This project is a critical component because whenever investors inquire about investment opportunities in Bulawayo, they first want to know about the reliability of water supply and energy.
“The Gwayi-Shangani water project had been on the pipeline since 1912 but it took the able and visionary leadership of President Mnangagwa to bring it into life.
“The surrounding districts, Bulawayo and beyond will benefit from this massive project because of the opportunities created by this project,” she said.
City of Bulawayo’s acting principal engineer for water supplies, Engineer Dhumani Gwetu, said council is already working on putting the associated infrastructure that will result in the distribution of water to the critical areas.
“As Bulawayo City Council we are working with Zinwa behind the scenes. We are looking at the ways of evacuating water when it arrives in Bulawayo.
“We have been waiting for this project as a city since it will go a long way in alleviating our water challenges,” he said.
“For us, receiving water is actually more critical than its arrival at a particular point. We are, therefore, working on putting in the associated infrastructure that will result in the distribution of water to the critical areas.”
Eng Gwetu said the erection of expanded infrastructure is a process, which requires resources and time.
“The city’s water set up is configured with Criterion water works as the nerve centre hence when water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani arrives in Bulawayo, as BCC we are looking at ways of getting that water to Criterion so that it reaches every corner of the city,” he said.
“We are in the process of drawing up a budget for the associated infrastructure.
“However, initially the water will arrive at Magwegwe Reservoir, which is the largest in Bulawayo, but there is a need for that water to go beyond Magwegwe and get to Criterion because Magwegwe serves a particular number of our district water zones.”
Zinwa assistant resident engineer Engineer Lucio Chayeruka said the dam is now 69 percent complete with contractors having introduced night shifts to ensure work is completed within the agreed timeframes.
“We are moving at a fast pace and we are optimistic that we will be able to meet our deadline to supply potable water to Bulawayo and transform irrigation within the corridors of Binga, Lupane and Hwange districts,” he said.
“We are doing at least four metres a month and right now we are at 36 metres of the dam wall. This year alone we covered 17 metres of the height of the dam and to date the overall construction progress is at 69 percent.
“We have 600 workers on site of which 90 percent are locals from Hwange, Lupane and Binga districts.”
Chinese engineers, China Water and Electric Corp, won the tender to construct the Lake-Gwayi Shangani and Zinwa is in charge of the project.
The massive water project is expected to ignite rural industrialisation across the Matabeleland region where communities will have access to clean water and electricity to power local institutions.
Guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS1), the Government aims to increase the proportion of people with access to potable water to 90 percent from 78 percent, by 2025.
The construction of the massive water body will transform the Matabeleland region as irrigation will be established in the area of the lake.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, an idea that was conceived more than a century ago and has only been turned into reality by the Second Republic.
The dam is the third largest in the country after Tugwi-Mukosi and Mutirikwi.
Already, Government has identified 10 000 hectares of land for irrigation in a greenbelt along the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline to contribute towards food security in the dry regions of Matabeleland.
The completion of the project will also see the Government constructing a 10-megawatt power station at the Lake Gwayi Shangani site.