MASVINGO – Despite numerous assurances and previously putting up a brave face, the government has finally admitted that it will fail to meet a December 31 deadline to complete the country’s largest inland dam – the Tokwe-Mukorsi – in Masvingo province over delays in resettling villagers in the basin area due to late disbursement of money for compensation.
The dam is set to provide water for irrigation for the drought-prone Masvingo province to ease chronic food shortages currently ravaging the southern region of the country.
At full supply, the dam will cover an area of approximately 9 600 hectares.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said the dam would be completed by April next year, in sharp contrast to previous statements by other government officials that the project would be finally completed this month.
“Work is progressing very well and by the end of this year, the dam wall should be containing water. We expect the project to be completed by April next year,” Bhasikiti said yesterday.
He said there were a few villagers who are in the flood area and were yet to be moved.
“It’s fortunate that we have not yet received a lot of rains, otherwise some families could have had their structures flooded by now. But we will be moving them very soon,” Bhasikiti said.
The report, however, noted that the delays in resettling the displaced villagers had stalled progress on the construction of the dam, especially in areas where blasting was required, meaning the deadline was not going to be met.
It blamed haggling among the ministries of Water Resources and Development, Local Government as well as the Public Works and Lands and Rural Resettlement for delays.
“Resettlement activities are being severely delayed as key government ministries of Water, Local Government, Public Works and Lands are struggling to undertake their respective activities in the resettlement process. They have no funding for resettlement in their respective establishments,” the report reads.
While funding for resettling villagers in Chisase in Nuanetsi Ranch came, some villagers squandered the money before they had even moved and are still stuck there.
Some of the villagers had earlier on resisted eviction, saying they wanted to be moved downstream so that they will benefit from the dam through irrigation.