Addressing journalists soon after touring the 42 kilometre pipeline, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the pipeline which will link the Mtshabezi and Ncema dams is set to transform the lives of villagers along the pipe line corridor as well as alleviate Bulawayo’s water shortages upon its completion before the end of this year.
“I have been informed that this project will be completed before the end of this year. This is a very important project for the people of Matabeleland and Bulawayo. Water shortage among other factors such as liquidity and recapitalisation problems were some of the reasons why industries were closing in the province. The most affected industries are textile. The agenda for Zimbabwe now is for reconstruction. Our industries are using very old and dilapidated machinery,” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister who was accompanied by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the Minister of Water Resources and Development, the Mayor of Bulawayo and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Water, Ringson Chistiko during the tour said government through the Ministry of Finance has set aside funds to assist depressed companies in the country.
He said the local people will also be able to use the water from the Mtshabezi dam for irrigation purposes.
“Matabeleland is a drought area and we hope the local will be able also to use the water for irrigation purposes,” he said. It is also in the national interest that the state should compensate those families affected by the construction of the pipeline,” said Tsvangirai
The Mtshabezi pipeline project is a short term measure meant to address the city’s perennial water shortages that have seen some suburbs going for weeks without water and industries operating at a low capacity Work on the project stopped in the year 2007 due to lack of funds.
The project was mooted in 1994 but the Bulawayo city council turned down the offer saying council could not afford to fund the pipeline. Over the years, Bulawayo has been facing perennial water shortages which have been attributed to the increasing high water demand in the city. The city’s population currently stands at about 1, 5 million and the last dam to be built was commissioned in 1976.
Since that period no single dam has been built to correspond the city’s increasingly population. Bulawayo draws water from five dams, namely Upper and Lower Ncema, Inyankuni, Umzingwane and Insiza dams are also heavily silted due to upstream gold panning.
The deputy minister of Local Government Sisal Zvidzai also attended the tour.