By Luckmore Safuli
THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) is projecting 10 000 direct and indirect jobs to be created at the peak of the construction phase of the Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme project and has assured citizens of Zimbabwe and Zambia of equal social and economic benefits.
The bi-national organization which is carrying out the Environmental and Social Economic Impact Assessment (ESIA) disclosure exercise says it has put in place measures to ensure that citizens of the two sister countries derive significant benefits from the implementation of the 2400MW Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme project.
A total of 4 000 direct jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase while around 6 000 indirect or secondary jobs opportunities are also projected. ZRA Director Water Resources and Management Engineer Christopher Chisenze said empowering of local communities on both sides of Zambezi River remains one of the key priority areas.
“A lot of the submissions we received points to the issues of employment. As ZRA and our implementing partners we are going to make sure that the locals are getting the maximum benefits from the employment opportunity,” he said.
The authority is also negotiating with the contractor to ensure that 20% of the total project value goes to the local contractors. As part of the efforts to promote local participation, a capacity building programme for entrepreneurs from the two countries is being planned.
Chief Shana and other community leaders from Hwange’s Jambezi area who attended the ESIA disclosure meeting, told the ZRA officials that they welcome the project but stressed the need to ensure that villagers from Hwange community get preference in terms of employment.
“We would like to applaud ZRA for taking time to come to this community and to share with us the benefits to be derived from the project. As a community, our major concern is around employment opportunities. We would want to see our children and villagers from this community getting first preference,” he said.
During the ESIA public disclosure meeting, Mr Luka Ncube from Hwange took time to apologize to the ZRA team for being involved in the illegal recruitment of workers for the project.
Construction of the US$4.5 billion Hydro-Electric Scheme project is expected to commence during the fourth quarter of 2021.