By Mhlomuli Ncube
GOVERNMENT ministers concur that the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project which was set in motion by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday will transform the agricultural sector in the dry region of the country.
The two major beneficiaries of the multi-million dollar water project, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North say the initiative is a milestone whose economic impact will transform lives.
“One giant step towards the realisation of the long-awaited Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project. We are happy that this is permanently addressing water challenges that have bedevilled Bulawayo. Today is a milestone moment,” they said.
There is also consensus among government ministries that the water project will be of great economic benefit in the area.
“We assembled a team of 11 engineers drawn from all agencies. We agreed on a plan of action. Together with Epping Forest and Rochester, Byo should be getting enough water even before Gwayi- Shangani. We have seen the prioritisation of funding. Completion of the dam alone would mean no benefit for investors hence the commissioning of the pipeline. As we embark on the pipeline it is critical to think about developing other downward industries. The original cost was estimated at 1.2 billion dollars. Through local discussions we have managed to reduce this by 60 percent leaving it at around 500 million dollars….the pipeline is going to be life-changing for the communities.. we have identified some 10 000 hectares to be irrigated through this Gwayi – Shangani project,” they said.
Sourcing most of its funding from the local market, the project will empower locals not only through the provision of drinking water but the setting up of a greenbelt covering 10 thousand hectares of irrigation.
Beyond being a project of national pride, it is expected to bring with it commercial value while directly contributing to the national gross domestic product.