THE construction of the much-awaited Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project pipeline is likely to be delayed after it emerged that tenders for the various phases of the project except the Gwayi-Shan
gani dam are yet to be floated.
The Chinese contractor currently at the site, Chinese Electrical Machinery and Equipment (CEME), was only awarded the tender to construct the Gwayi-Shangani dam, while the laying of the 450-kilometre pipeline is yet to be tendered for.
Sources said the Chinese contractor had started clearing the site and blasting the area around the access road to the river-bed but has not yet started on the dam construction.
Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) chairman, Dumiso Dabengwa, confirmed that the Chinese would only construct the Gwayi-Shangani dam.
He said the process of inviting tenders for the laying of the pipeline from the Zambezi river to Bulawayo would be done at a later stage.
“The Chinese have already started clearing the site. Blasting the access road to the river bed will be complete soon and we expect them to start on the foundation of the dam wall very, very soon,” Dabengwa told the Zimbabwe Independent this week.
Pressed to comment on when the whole project is expected to be completed, Dabengwa said it should take three years.
“While the first phase of constructing the Gwayi-Shangani dam is going on, we will be looking for a company that will manufacture the pipes. The process will go parallel with the dam construction and we should be through with the project in three years,” he said.
It also emerged this week that the designing of the pipeline has not yet been done. The design of the pipeline will determine the type of pipes to be used.
“This year we expect to do a detailed design of the pipeline and by the beginning of next year we will be on course. At the moment we do not see any hitches to the project,” Dabengwa said.
MZWT officials are expected to travel to Malaysia this month to sign a US$600 million joint-venture agreement that will see the Malaysians holding an 80% stake in the project while the MZWT will only have a 20% equity.