CONSTRUCTION of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been halted due to lack of funds, Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has confirmed.
Kasukuwere was responding to former Matabeleland North governor Thokozile Mathuthu in the Senate last Thursday after she inquired about the status of the project.
Mathuthu also wanted to know if alternative sources of water had been planned for Bulawayo and other areas.
The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is an important component of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP).
“The work has temporarily stopped because of cashflow constraints. Once we overcome that challenge, we will resume the work,” he said.
“The Gwayi Shangani Dam remains our very most important proposed source of water for Bulawayo. Plans are afoot that we continue to proceed with the construction programme at Gwayi Shangani.”
Kasukuwere said there was no better alternative than the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
“For now, Bulawayo has reasonable water suppliers, but we believe in the long term we need to ensure the Gwayi-Shangani Dam is built to give Bulawayo sufficient water resources that will also be commensurate to any development activity that would be undertaken in Bulawayo,” he said.
Kasukuwere said they were in discussion with a Chinese contractor to ensure that work on the dam resumed.
MZWP is expected to be implemented in phases, with the first being the completion of the Gwayi Shangani Dam which would receive water from the Zambezi River.
The second phase would see the construction of a pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to a reservoir in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb while the third and final phase would be the construction of a 245km pipeline from the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
The dry Matabeleland region traditionally receives low rainfall and Bulawayo’s urban expansion has put pressure on the city’s water supply dams forcing the local authority to resort to water shedding.