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Chinese disappear from Byo pipeline project

Loughty Dube

A CHINESE company contracted by the government to lay a pipeline linking Mtshabezi and Mzingwane dams has disappeared from the scene, despite claims by the

state that it was working flat out to solve a crippling water crisis in Bulawayo.

Chinese International Water and Electrical (CWE) was this year awarded a tender to lay the 32-kilometre pipeline linking the two dams, but save for fencing off a small portion around the dam, there has been no meaningful development on the laying of the pipeline.

The pipeline will enable the pumping of water from Mtshabezi dam to Mzingwane, one of Bulawayo’s water supply dams.

Bulawayo is facing critical water shortages that have resulted in residents going for as long as nine days without.

This is despite claims by government in June that it had allocated $30 billion for the construction of the pipeline and promises that Bulawayo would soon have water from Mtshabezi dam.

A visit to Mtshabezi dam by the Zimbabwe Independent this week revealed that nothing had taken off the ground and there was no equipment to suggest that work could begin anytime soon.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) was allocated the money by the government to kick-start the project, but the Chinese company only did surveys at the dam and disappeared without laying the pipeline.

A source said pronouncements by the government on the project were a ploy to pacify the people of Bulawayo and Matabeleland, adding that there was no adequate funding allocated to the pipeline.

“The government has not purchased piping material and the Chinese company has not even brought into the country electrical engines needed in the laying and construction of the pipeline,” said the source.

The source said costs for building the pipeline were now close to a $1 trillion and the $30 billion availed by the government was just a drop in the ocean.

“The government is not serious about the project and I feel sorry for the suffering people of Matabeleland who are continuously lied to. This project will suffer the same fate as the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project,” said the source.

Bulawayo city council spokesperson, Phathisa Nyathi, said council was aware of delays in the construction of the Mtshabezi pipeline.

“We are not expecting the Mtshabezi pipeline to be connected soon so we are hoping that it rains. The city of Bulawayo is like an orphan and no one is willing to come to our rescue,” Nyathi said.

Efforts to contact the Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Munacho Mutezo, on the matter proved fruitless at the time of going to press.

The connection of the Mtshabezi pipeline was seen as a short-term solution to solving Bulawayo’s perennial water woes while the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project is the long-term solution to the water crisis dogging the city and the region.

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