Government (corruption) to blame for the chaos at Tokwe Mukosi Dam
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Millions of dollars are due to go to waste and thousands of people and their homes on the verge of being swept away in water as the Tokwe Mukosi Dam wall is inevitably going to collapse.
The Tokwe Mukosi Dam project in Masvingo province was first initiated as an idea by the colonial government but could not immediately take off because of the hotting up of the liberation struggle. At independence the project was high up on government projects. The dam was meant to rescue the drought prone Masvingo Province and provide water for irrigation and consumption by the entire Masvingo province.
On completion the dam should have been the biggest inland dam in the country bigger than lake Mutirikwi also in Masvingo. The dam being built at a cost of US$200 million is expected to carry nearly 2 million cubic litres of water when completed.
Construction of the dam began in the early 1990s and came to a halt in 2002 at the start of Zimbabwe's economic woes. The project resumed in 2009 in the hands of the Government of National Unity. Since its start the project has had several deadline extensions until the heavy rains of this rain season caught up with the project still incomplete.
Government contracted Italian company Salini Costrutorri as the main contractor. The Italian company of great repute was also a contractor on the Kariba Dam project and commands great confidence around the world when it comes to construction of dams. The problems started when Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) failed to release funds to the giant company and progress made difficult. Make matters worse ZINWA contracted very incompetent local sub contractors who would take money from ZINWA and fail to deliver service on site.
What causes more confusion is that ZINWA has over 14 uncompleted dam projects country wide all contracted to the same inefficient local contractors. These local contractors cause all the jams in the projects resulting in projects costs escalating due to interest charges and machinery lying idle on site for long periods. Examples of projects ZINWA has failed on include Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, which accrued US$46 million interest between 2004 and 2007, Bubi-Lupane US$49,4 million and Marovanyati Dam US$4,2 million.
Concerns are raised on the capacity of local contractors that ZINWA engages and how these contractors are engaged in the first place. In a parliamentary committee report last year Zinwa was asked to give evidence on why its projects were taking too long and shocking information pointing in the direction of massive corruption came to the fore.
Part of the report reads, "Zinwa indicated during oral evidence that indigenous contractors usually bring equipment which would break down in two or three days time. In such an event, they are given advance payment, but still do not repair the broken equipment. Zinwa resort to engaging a sub contractor with equipment to assist the non performing contractor instead of cancelling the contract."
"As for penalties for failure to deliver the results, Zinwa indicated that for indigenous players they usually did not have the resources to pay the penalties while foreign contractors, had no such problems."
It was also noted in an audit report that contracts were awarded to companies already working on other projects. One example given was that of Multiforce awarded a contract to construct the Beitbridge pipeline in 2007 when it was struggling to complete Bubi-Lupane Dam awarded in 2005.
Government on the other hand is trying to run away from blame on the Tokwe Mukosi delay by putting the blame on local people for "refusing to leave" the area for the dam catchment. The government has not been showing any serious commitment towards the relocation of the people as little compensation or assistance was being given to the people to relocate. In the hype of the land resettlement programme government was so fast trek in moving people leaving one wondering why the people around Tokwe Mukosi dam area were not moved.
As we write this article the dam wall can collapse any minute and an estimated 1.5 million cubic litres of water is expected to find its way down and all of the millions of dollars and time spent on the dam about to go down. Thousands of people down stream are being evacuated in a haste and accommodated by the Red Cross in temporary shelters. Properties valued at millions of dollars and livestock are due to be swept away when the dam collapses. Maybe as you read this article the dam wall has given in.
There is no one to blame but corruption and theft by government officials and giving excuses for the fall of the dam is not good enough. A thorough investigation followed by stern action is needed on this. The country can't be losing money and lives because of a few individuals' recklessness and greed.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe has already declared the Tokwe Mukosi Dam saga a National Disaster before the dam wall collapses which is evidence enough that we are on our way to a catastrophe.
Tokwe Mukosi Masvingo River Dam
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