Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday officiated the groundbreaking ceremony of the Gwayi-Shangani water pipeline which upon completion is expected to end the perennial water challenges in the country’s south-western regions.

Mnangagwa also commissioned the Nyamandlovu Aquifer water project, a development that is expected to enhance water supply in the second largest city of Bulawayo by providing 20 million liters of water daily.

The Gwayi-Shangani water project is part of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, an ambitious water project being undertaken in the arid Matabeleland North province.

The project seeks to end the perennial water shortages bedeviling Bulawayo and surrounding areas of the Matebeleland region by bringing water from the Zambezi river to the city.

The government is implementing the project in three phases.

Phase one, which is the core of the project, is the ongoing construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which is at 40 percent completion level.

The construction of the dam was entrusted to China International Water and Electric Corporation, but progress has been stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase two of the project, which Mnangagwa commissioned on Thursday, is the construction of the 260 km pipeline and pumping stations linking the Gwayi-Shangani Dam to Bulawayo. The pipeline is expected to be complete before the end of next year.

The third phase entails the construction of the bulk water abstraction infrastructure on the Zambezi River and a second pipeline linking this to the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline.

Touted as a panacea to Bulawayo’s perennial water shortages, on completion, the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline will have a capacity to convey in excess of 160 million cubic meters of water to the city annually.

The Gwayi-Shangani pipeline will also benefit several irrigation schemes being set up between the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and Bulawayo.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the project in Nyamandlovu, Matebeleland North Province, Mnangagwa said the commencement of the water project will go a long way in solving water challenges plaguing in the south-western region.

“The groundbreaking ceremony of the Gwayi-Shangani Water Project is a remarkable milestone to improve water security and supply in the city of Bulawayo and surrounding areas,” Mnangagwa said.

He said the Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline will be undertaken by local engineers and construction companies as the government’s empowerment drive.

“This cuts down on completion time. It will also provide employment and empowerment for contractors and communities along the pipeline route,” he said.

Bulawayo has since over the years grappled with water shortages largely due to the effects of climate change and depleting water levels at the city’s supply dams.

It is envisaged that once completed, the dam and the pipeline will give Bulawayo an adequate water supply.

The dam, which is set to be the third-largest inland water body in Zimbabwe, will have a net holding capacity of 690 million cubic meters of water, which is 1.8 times bigger than the combined capacity of Bulawayo’s present five supply dams. Enditem

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