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Communities along the MZWP pipeline to be relocated

by Staff reporter
12 Dec 2013 at 02:46hrs | Views
THE implementation of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) will result in the displacement of scores of people living within a 60km radius of the 245km pipeline, an official has said.

Speaking during an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultation meeting at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam site on Tuesday, chief project consultant, Lennon Madzamba from Outrun Investments and Green Resources Consortium, said communities living within the 60km radius of the pipeline would be relocated.

The pipeline will connect water from Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North to Cowdray Park in Bulawayo where a giant water treatment plant would be constructed.

"The EIA is a process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the social and other effects of the development project prior to a major decision being taken and commitments made," Madzamba said.

The meeting was attended by Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) engineers, NMZWP advisory council members from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

Tempers flared during the meeting which was meant to evaluate the impact that the project would have on communities, as advisory council members criticised Zinwa for failing to communicate with them on key decision making processes.

"We are trying to move forward but you keep taking us back. The people you bring here do not have adequate knowledge of the project," bellowed one of the advisory council members from the floor.

The members queried the allocation of tenders, saying first preference should be given to Matabeleland firms.
They said companies from outside the region were deliberately derailing the process and did not have knowledge of NMZWP.

In response, a Zinwa employee who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the Press, said the consultancy company was appointed by the then Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management.

"I can tell you that only one company from Matabeleland region, Bumira from Bulawayo, responded to the tender that was placed in the Press over a 30-day period last year," he said.

Matabeleland North provincial administrator Latiso Dlamini had a torrid time trying to cool down tempers.
She urged participants to contain their emotions and discuss issues in a rational manner.

Dlamini said Zinwa and the advisory council should work together at each and every stage to achieve progress.
The meeting resolved that the EIA should not be done to impress the Environmental Management Agency but for the benefit of local communities who will be affected by the project. It was also resolved that the pipeline would have openings along the way to allow locals to draw water for domestic and farming purposes.

The meeting also noted that local communities should benefit from direct employment during the construction work of the project.

The consultations are still on in Matabeleland North and will be completed on Friday next week in Bulawayo.

The NMZWP is viewed as a big economic project for the entire southern region and is set to create a green belt that will enhance food production through irrigation along the pipeline.

The project is also regarded as the long term solution to Bulawayo's perennial water shortages.

Recently, Zimbabwe was given the green light to draw water from the mighty Zambezi River by the regional neighbouring states that also draw water from the river.

The Government has also finalised a loan facility with China to finance the project that was mooted more than a century ago.

Source - chronicle
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