OVER 350 families close to Gwayi-Shangani Dam are facing imminent displacement to pave way for the construction of the largest water body in Matabelaland North province.

BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam pipeline was estimated to provide 147 mega litres a day and, therefore, ensure bulk water supply in the medium term to Bulawayo and Matabeleland North.
Speaking during a tour of the project which was organised by Bulawayo Civic Society Organisation, the project’s assistant engineer Lucio Chayeruka said 350 families would be
displaced.

“I am aware of the 350 families that are going to be affected by the construction of the dam,” Chayeruka said.

“We have done a survey and saw that 350 families need to be evacuated as they are going to be affected by the dam construction.

“The matter is now with the Lands and Agriculture ministry, but as it stands, the matter is now urgent so urgent intervention is required.”

Chayeruka said the Lands ministry would decide the fate of the families.

“It is the sole responsibility of the ministry to decide when and where these families will be resettled. Once we start the construction process, the structures will have to be removed,” he said.

Chayeruka decried lack of funding for the delay in the completion of the dam which is currently 39% complete after the contractor, China International Water and Electric Corporation, abandoned the project in January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is being constructed to link Cowdray Park and the City of Bulawayo. In 2016, the contractor suspended operations due to lack of funding.

“This dam is a US$121 million project. I haven’t seen the bill of quantities, but I know that this is a US$121 million project. Of that US$121 million, so far we have used about 39% of the money,” Chayeruka said.

“The issue here is actually of funding as you will see that we have all the materials in place. The only material that we might need to buy is cement and when all funding has been put in place, the dam will only take one year to be completed.”

Matabeleland Collectives chairperson Jenny Williams said civil society organisations needed to know if those families were going to be compensated.

“It is important for us the civil society to empower the community that is within the 60km radius of the dam and what it will mean for them when the dam is constructed. They need to be empowered to know what is coming their way,” Williams said.

“The communities need to be empowered so that people cannot come and take advantage of those communities.”

The project is going to help improve the water situation in Bulawayo which is currently facing serious water shortages.

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