The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
WITH Bulawayo struggling with perennial water shortages which has seen the city enduring strict water shedding schedules, the only long-term solution remains the completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani and subsequently the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline.
The project is among the flagship infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa in its drive to foster inclusive economic transformation.
Over 100 years since it was first mooted, the project has only taken off under the Second Republic and it is now more of a reality, than just a plan, with indications that it would be complete by the 2023/24 summer cropping season.
Situated about 6,5km from the confluence of Gwayi and Shangani rivers, the concrete gravity arch dam was designed and engineered by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and has a gross capacity of 650 million cubic metres. Upon completion it will be the third largest inland dam after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.
The dam is being constructed by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) through a Chinese contractor, China Water and Electric Corporation.
The dam project is part of a century-old National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which successive administrations failed to implement. Lake Gwayi-Shangani is a roller compacted concrete gravity dam, implying that it depends on its weight for stability.
It will have an ogee-shaped overflow, with a 200-metre-long spillway while the maximum depth of water will be 59 metres.
The construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani is the first phase of the project which also involves the laying of a 245km pipeline to Bulawayo. Once completed, the Lake should be transformative to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and contribute to national food security with a number of irrigation projects along the way.
Writing in one of his weekly articles to the nation which are published in this paper, President Mnangagwa also reiterated that the project was progressing well, emphasising on its impact in terms of solving the water situation in Bulawayo.
According to the scope of work the Gwayi-Shangani Dam pipeline will consist of two pipelines with a diameter of 1,2 metres with a capacity to convey up to 450 megalitres of water per day to Bulawayo.
It will have six booster pump stations at Lake Gwayi-Shangani, Goodluck, Ngamo, Umguza, Igusi and Nyamandlovu and will be discharging into a water treatment plant situated in Cowdray Park.
Once finished, the project will impact on Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South provinces, with the latter benefiting as some dams that supply Bulawayo will be realigned to provide irrigation water in the home province.