Reserve Batoka Gorge jobs for locals, ZRA urged

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LEGISLATORS have challenged the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to reserve the bulk of jobs stemming from the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-energy scheme for locals.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

The multi-million-dollar project to be jointly run by Zimbabwe and Zambia is set to generate

2 400 megawatts of electricity expected to ease the two countries’ power woes and generate thousands of jobs.

The legislators said they feared that the contract will be awarded to foreign companies.

“What plans are putting in place for locals in terms of contracts? We don’t want a situation where our people will be given menial jobs on short-term contracts.

“You have to start looking for locals before looking elsewhere. This infrastructure is ours and we want to have a sense of belonging,” an unidentified Zambian legislator said.

Some parliamentarians said local communities needed to benefit in the long-term.

“For people living along the project, what benefits are they are going to get? You need to build schools and hospitals through revenue collected and electrify their homes as well. We know that these are rural people, but they need to reap fruits of this project.”

ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said they were going to submit the legislators’ concerns, acknowledging that several foreign investors had already shown interest.

“We have been approached by engineers from Canada, Japan, France, Cuba, Russia, Czechoslovakia among others for partnerships.

These people have resources and high technological skills, but we still want locals too if they have the capacity.

“What we fear is legitimacy of other locals. Some will approach us with fake documents while being sent by Chinese so we need a thorough audit to every contractor and these are policy issues that you as legislators need to cement for us.”

Munodawafa said many African countries have approached them with an interest to be investors.