Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is now working 24 hours a day on the Epping Forest Borehole Project in Nyamandlovu, a move meant to ease water problems in Bulawayo by end of next month.

In addition, progress on the long-term project to ease the water woes in the city, the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has started to peak after a temporary setback due to Covid-19 and is now expected to come on line by December next year.

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The latest progress was revealed yesterday when Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement, Dr Anxious Jongwe Masuka, toured the two projects, seen as key to alleviate water problems in the country’s second capital. At the Epping Forest, Zinwa is drilling 10 boreholes that will add 10 megalitres a day, bringing the total number of boreholes feeding the city to 20.

Speaking after touring the two projects, Dr Masuka said he was confident that the timelines set were now a reality, adding that it was one of his ministry’s priorities to identify a lasting solution to the city’s water problems.

“The purpose of my visit was to familiarise myself with the water projects being undertaken by Zinwa, first to supply water to the residents of Bulawayo and secondly for irrigation purposes. I was happy with the progress being made at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam which is going to be one of the biggest inland dams in the country, of which the dam is now 39 percent complete with construction work expected to be completed by December 2021.

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“At Epping Forest, I am especially happy that all the construction work is on course, with workers now on 24-hour shifts. On their part Zinwa gave assurances that they will have completed by end of October or even earlier, what we are now working on is for Zesa to install the dedicated power line as a matter of urgency so we get the additional 10 megalitres of water from these boreholes being fed into the system,” he said.

Dr Masuka said the Government was pushing for communities close to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam to also start benefiting from the project through the setting up of irrigation schemes.

“As you know the long-term purpose of that dam is for the construction of a pipeline to Bulawayo, which we envisage will take four years, we thus need work to continue steadily so that the contractor meets the December 2021 deadline so that work on the pipeline can immediately commence. The plan also is that the power station that is to be established at the dam be completed at the same time as the construction of the dam, where we envisage that the electricity generated will immediately be fed into the national grid, which is another plus in terms of this project,” he said.

Briefing the minister, relating to the Epping Forest Project, Zinwa chief executive officer Engineer Taurai Maurikira said the water utility decided to put their engineers on round the clock work to ensure the project is expedited.

“I know today we are saying that the project will be completed by end of October but we are actually pushing that it be done earlier than that. Our only hold up for now is connecting the boreholes to electricity,” said Eng Maurikira.

On the progress being made at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, Eng Maurikira said work had been set back by the Covid-19 necessitated lockdown which had seen the Chinese contractor failing to travel to Zimbabwe from China but things were now in place and construction work was expected to commence soon.

“The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is now 39 percent complete, what is left is the construction of the embarkment. If we assume we start work immediately after the long break due to Covid-19 we should complete the dam wall by October next year and the rest of the ancillary works inclusive of the power house we expect to have completed it by December 2021,” he said.

Commenting on the envisaged completion of the Epping Forest Project, Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said the additional 10 megalitres will see the local authority cut the water shedding schedule to 72 hours a week.

“This is a massive project and will go a long way in easing our challenges because that 10 megalitres will reduce water shedding, which is obviously something which our residents are looking forward to,” said Mr Dube.

Dr Masuka was accompanied on the tour by the Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs, Cde Richard Moyo.

Bulawayo is enduring its worst water crisis in recent years, with residents sometimes going for weeks without water. Some suburbs have also gone since February without supplies, with council indicating that it will only be able to supply water if its supply dams receive enough water during this coming rainy season.