Stakeholders back developmental projects around Victoria Falls

By Tichaona Kurewa

Various stakeholders have backed developmental projects currently going on in and around the City of Victoria Falls as well as those on the cards saying, they will all compliment Zimbabwe’s economic growth and the recovery plan of the tourism sector battered by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are hosting a Reactive Monitoring Mission (RRM) from UNESCO that is assessing potential impact to the outstanding universal value of the Mosi oa Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site.

The RMM had field visits and meetings with stakeholders on both sides of the Zambezi River to determine the significance of the claims of increased pressure from tourism and development projects.

Contributing to the mission during discussions this Saturday, Elisabeth Curiger, a tourism executive, indicated that the developments in and around Victoria Falls are meant to support economic growth.

“We do need electricity. The population is growing and maybe it will then overtake the coal mines producing electricity. Coal has much more impact on the pollution. The hydro-electric system has less impact on the environment. So, it’s a good project in that case,” Curiger noted.

Andrew Lane, a property developer, weighed in.

“Growth and development are important and I think we are going the right direction making a sustainable city that keeps growing and develops our industry. The growth and development are important for us.”

Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa highlighted that the Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme will be developed in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Said Munodawafa: “The completion of the power projects means that there will be no more load shedding in Zimbabwe and Zambia, more so during construction. A total of 6 000 people will be employed, while 3 000 will be employed on permanent basis. In terms of revenue, the scheme will generate US$734 million annually for the two countries, compared US$25 million currently being generated from some tourism activities in the Batoka Gorges.”

Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Deputy Director Natural Resources, Tafadzwa Mundoga assured the commission of Zimbabwe’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the world heritage site is safeguarded.

“Victoria Falls is not under any threat we are doing all we can to ensure conservation and development is balanced,” he said.

The Reactive Monitoring Mission for the Mosi oa Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site will compile a report of its findings and make recommendations to the World Heritage Convention which will be meeting in Russia in June this year.