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Govt has no plans to build a dam for Bulawayo

by Staff Reporter
09 Jan 2013 at 21:51hrs | Views
THE Government has no plans to build an additional supply dam for Bulawayo despite the crippling water shortage that has forced the city to adopt a stringent water shedding regime, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

In an interview, the Minister of Water Resources Management and Development, Dr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said the city would have to make do with stopgap measures until the completion of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP).

Bulawayo is said to be operating with a deficit of about four supply dams and its population has outgrown the five dams that supply the city.

Two of the dams have been decommissioned and two more are on the brink of being cut off from the supply chain due to low levels.

A supply dam is supposed to be built every 10 years.

The last dam that was built and used in Bulawayo was Insiza Dam in 1976.

Insiza Dam is the city's major source of water and may soon be the only dam supplying the city if the other two are decommissioned.

Unfortunately, Insiza Dam is at the centre of a dispute between the Bulawayo City Council and Insiza Rural District Council.

Stakeholders in that district now want the city council to avail a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two parties in 1975 before a new agreement for Bulawayo to draw more water from Insiza is made.

The 1975 MoU was signed by the then Ministry of Water, BCC and Insiza District Council after the BCC helped Filabusi construct Insiza Dam.

The document is said to contain information on the role BCC had to play to support developmental projects in Filabusi and also stated the amount of water which the district had to supply Bulawayo with.

According to the document, BCC was to draw larger volumes of water than Insiza District and stakeholders from the district want the document re-visited since the district has expanded and its population has greatly increased and residents there require more water.

Insiza District stakeholders now feel that BCC did not honour some of the conditions of the agreement hence the need to revisit the agreement.

However, Dr Nkomo said his ministry would only concentrate on drilling more boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer.

"There are no plans to build additional dams for Bulawayo. We have to deal with the situation by increasing the number of boreholes at the aquifer and drilling more at Epping Forest. This should hold us until the completion of the Gwayi/Shangani Dam, a major component of the NMZWP," said Dr Sipepa Nkomo.

The NMZWP, which has been on the drawing board since 1912, is said to be the permanent solution to Bulawayo's perennial water problems.

Dr Sipepa Nkomo announced last year that he had sourced the $1,2 billion that was needed for the project from China.

He said then, that the project would be finished in three years from the date when construction crews moved on site.

Yesterday, he could not give a date for the commencement of work. "We are still dealing with technical aspects of the NMZWP. Drawings, geo-mapping and soil samples are still being analysed. At this stage, I cannot give you a date," said Dr Sipepa Nkomo.

He said in the short term, attention would shift to recycling water from the heavily polluted Khami Dam. "We need to harness this source for industry and agriculture. This would avail an additional 10 000 cubic metres of water to the city," said Dr Sipepa Nkomo.

He said people who had been opposed to the use of Khami water had thought it was going to be for domestic consumption.

"Studies are underway to determine if parallel piping would be needed to enable industry to access the water without polluting clean water from the other dams," said Dr Sipepa Nkomo.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Thaba Moyo said the city had no option but to wait for Government's long-term strategy.

"The situation continues to deteriorate, but as a city, we can only look at short-term strategies to tide us over until the completion of the NMZWP," said Clr Moyo.

He said Bulawayo would concentrate on the aquifer and duplication of the Insiza pipeline to enable the city to pump more water from the dam.

Meanwhile, residents have blasted Dr Sipepa and council, accusing them of making promises without taking action to alleviate the water situation.

"It is disturbing to note that over the years, politicians have played games with supplying water to Bulawayo. Mtshabezi Dam was completed in 1994 and up to today, the city has not received a single drop of water from it. It is all promises and more promises without action," said Mr Winos Dube, the chairperson of the Bulawayo United Residents' Association (Bura).

"Ideally, we should build another dam in Matabele-land North where there is more rainfall as we cannot rely on our supply dams that are all in the arid Matabe-leland South. However, I think that strategy would be too late to save the city, so we must concentrate resources on the Zambezi project, a lasting solution."

He said residents had no choice, but to trust the leaders when they said there could be enough water in Nyamandlovu to keep the city going until the NMZWP is completed.

Source - TH
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