The Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management is vetting tenders for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project after it received a $4 million cash injection from the government.
Construction work is expected to resume soon.
In an interview on Monday, Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo told NewsDay the project, which has taken over five decades to get off the ground, would finally take shape this year.
The Gwayi Shangani Dam is a major component of the Zambezi Water Project.
Sipepa Nkomo said work on the Shangani Dam would commence soon, bringing hope to the region that has suffered water shortages for many decades.
“We will start work on the Shangani Dam soon. The Zimbabwean government has set aside $4 million for the commencement of construction at the dam. We are hopeful that the money will go a long way in taking our work forward.
“I am also hopeful that this is not the last of the money to be thrown into the project by the government. It will keep releasing funds for the dam and work will begin quite soon,” he said.
Nkomo said he would be working with the State Procurement Board this month to select contractors for the dam.
“This month, we will be working with the Tender Board because this project had stopped a long time ago. It is like we are starting afresh. What is important to note is that we are now using foreign currency. We therefore need to be sure that the Tender Board is comfortable with the pricing. My officials are working on the tenders,” he said.
Nkomo said the government would this year conclude negotiations with donor countries interested in bankrolling the project.
“The donor countries are still interested and 2011 should see us come up with concrete agreements with them,” he said.
Nkomo announced last year there were several countries interested in funding the project. They included China, South Korea and France.
The minister said government would likely announce the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) board at the end of January or February.
Authorities were already going through names submitted by the civil society and urban councils in Matabeleland, he said.
“We have received names from civic organisations and urban councils. The government is going through those names. Maybe by the end of January or the beginning of February we will be announcing a committee that will assist the government in implementing the project,” he said.
Efforts to draw water from the Zambezi River have been mired in controversy. Officials have been accusing each other of trying to steal the project from the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) led by Zapu president, Dumiso Dabengwa, for political reasons.
Most residents in Bulawayo have argued that Sipepa-Nkomo should involve MZWP instead of trying to “steal” the project from them.
The MZWP Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sara Ndlovu, confirmed receiving a letter of invitation from the ministry to send in a name for the board.
“We received a letter where he (minister) was asking us to forward a single name for the board that he is putting together,” she said.
She could not confirm nor deny if indeed they would forward a name to the minister.