Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has accused the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) of failing to connect power to a pump station, further delaying the completion of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipe link.
The 42km pipeline link to Mtshabezi Dam in Matabeleland South is regarded as the medium-term solution to Bulawayo’s perennial water problems.
But the project has already missed a number of deadlines and fears are that it might even stretch to next year.
Nkomo said the Zimbabwe National Water Authority had completed construction and laying of pipes and accused Zesa of delaying the connection of electricity to the main pump station.
“The laying of pipes for the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipe link has been completed, having covered 41,8km of the 42km stretch,” he said.
“All the other castings have also been done and completed.
“What is left is now out of our control, otherwise we have done our part.
“Zesa is yet to electrify the pump station and that is what is holding the project.”
But the minister said he could not give specific dates for completion of the project because of the power utility’s delays.
“I am tired of giving dates because this time, it is up to how fast Zesa connects the power station.
“It is something which is out of our control. However, I am hoping that by the time we reach the end of the first quarter of next year, we will be able to commission it.”
Contacted for comment on Monday, Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said he could not shed light on the matter as he was in a meeting.
“I am in a meeting right now, I will be free in an hour,” he said.
However, yesterday, he said he was gathering information on the matter, but at the time of going to press he was no longer reachable on his mobile phone.
Work on the project was initially stopped in 2007, due to lack of funds and only resumed last year.
Early this year, Nkomo said the project would be completed in March this year before he shifted the deadline to September and later December.
The project was mooted in 1994, but the council could not afford to fund it.
Bulawayo’s perennial water problems go as far back as 1943, when it attained city status.
The city’s population is around 1,5 million and the last dam to be built, Insiza, was commissioned in 1976.
Bulawayo Mayor Thaba Moyo said the city needs a new supply dam every 10 years to meet growing demand.
The city draws water from five reservoirs, namely Upper and Lower Ncema, Inyankuni, Umzingwane and Insiza dams.