What happened to Gwayi Dam?


BULAWAYO - The idea for the construction of a major dam for the continually drought- stricken Matabeleland region was first mooted in the early 1


An estimate of the cost of such a mammoth construction in 1912 was Z$6,000. Estimates rose to Z$8 billion in 1996 and now, 94 years later, costs will be in the trillions, but the dam has never been built.

Reading back over past publications one comes across proclamations like this one, posted: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 “The initial groundwork at the Gwayi-Shangani dam site has begun in earnest following a loan injection of Z$10 Billion from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.”

And “The dam will be financed at a cost of US$600 million by the government of Malaysia It will be carried out by a joint venture company, Zimbabwe-Malaysia Holdings. The ground work is being carried out by a Chinese company which was awarded a tender to construct the dam by the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.”

The proposed lasting solution to the city water problems was, in the first instance, the building of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North province. The next step was to pipe water from the mighty Zambezi itself.

The dam was supposed to take four years to complete. A contract for the building of the dam on a Build-Operate-Transfer arrangement was awarded to a Chinese company and there is ample evidence of Chinese participation in the project where all the signs are in both written in English as well as Chinese and there is a preponderance of the immaculate construction crews in surrounding areas like Hwange Safari Lodge and the Victoria Falls.

But now, two years into construction, there is not much to see at the site which is 300 kilometres to the North of Bulawayo, on the main Victoria Falls Road, at the confluence of the mighty Gwayi and the Shangani Rivers.

The gorge is spectacular. A recent trip showed the river flowing swiftly due to the recent heavy rains – but no sign of any dam wall.

I managed to find a tiny piece of news in a remote publication which stated on February 2, 2006 “Construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, one of the dams set to provide water to the drought-prone Matabeleland region, has been stopped following floods that swept away the dam wall and access roads at the construction site.”

Post published in: Opinions

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