Govt plans new town for Tugwi-Mukosi
George Maponga in Masvingo
Plans for a new town next to the giant Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Chivi, Masvingo province, to ensure that the major investment is fully used are being pushed by Government planners who envisage a second “Kariba” town for Zimbabwe’s largest interior water body, which has been largely idle since being commissioned in May 2017.
Built at a cost of more than US$250 million, the huge lake of 1,8 billion cubic metres has the capacity to sustain 24 anchor projects identified by the Government.
There were growing concerns across Masvingo province and beyond that anticipated benefits from the water body, whose construction caused the displacement of thousands of families from Chivi and Masvingo districts in 2014, would remain under-used, instead of being an engine for development and wealth creation.
Chief director for spatial planning and development in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Shingirayi Mushamba said Government was equally concerned about delays by communities around the water body and the nation at large to accrue maximum benefits from the dam.
Mr Mushamba said next year, a new era should dawn at the giant water body, with completion of the master plan, which has since been approved by Cabinet, being a major breakthrough towards fully using the lake.
“There is concern that water that has been harnessed at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam has not been fully used up to now for local communities to benefit and Government is quite sensitive and aware to that fact. Our goal is that in the shortest possible time processes start so that the water body can be fully used,’’ he said.
“We have set in motion processes for our provincial planning office (under Local Government and Public Works in Masvingo) to expedite preparation of a detailed layout plan for a fully developed proposed Tugwi-Mukosi town on the shores of the water body that covers more than 160ha and will be turned into another Kariba Town in this part of the country with people coming to implement development projects.’’
Full operationalisation of the Tugwi-Mukosi master plan was also pending because statutory approval of the master plan had not yet been effected.
But the provincial planning office under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works in Masvingo had been tasked with facilitating statutory approval of the master plan as all the other administrative processes were now complete.
Approval processes require input from affected communities.
Mr Mushamba disclosed that his ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development that is responsible for irrigation to make sure that “communities that are supposed to benefit from the water are assisted and empowered to actually harness the water and have the means to draw on the water and use it.
“So, I want to assure the people of Masvingo and Masvingo region that Tugwi-Mukosi is going to be a very big, big thing that is going to happen in 2024 in terms of implementing and exploiting fully the opportunities that the water body provides for this region.’’
In the first quarter of next year, the Tugwi-Mukosi investment forum would be held to come up with a joint plan of action on the opportunities that could be exploited at the water body and the requisite infrastructure to drive that goal.
“The investment forum will be attended by all the people wishing to take up opportunities at the dam and we will jointly discuss how to set up the necessary infrastructure and that will be our basis to develop upwards things like hotels and conference facilities among others,’’ added Mr Mushamba.
Tugwi-Mukosi Dam has already started accruing benefits for communities around Chivi and Masvingo, some of whom have ventured into commercial fish production after government licenced more than 20 fishing schemes.
Irrigation schemes around the water body such as Banga have also undergone expansion, thanks to additional and reliable water with several more in Masvingo, Chivi and Chiredzi districts expected to be expanded now that there is abundant irrigation water.
The lake has potential to irrigate more than 40 000ha in the Lowveld and falls under the gamut of the proposed Lowveld Integrated Irrigation master plan that envisions turning the region into a 200 000-hectare greenbelt anchored on irrigation water supply from Tugwi-Mukosi, Lake Mutirikwi and the planned Runde-Tende Dam.
Government has also since completed feasibility studies for a modest 17MW hydro power plant at Tugwi-Mukosi, putting Masvingo province at the forefront of developing eco-friendly clean energy.