By NDUDUZO TSHUMA
July 04 2011
The National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project is set to take off soon, following a $1, 6 billion cash injection by a Chinese company.
The project has been on the drawing board for more than 100 years.
Water Resources Management and Development minister, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo yesterday told NewsDay the Chinese company, which he declined to name, sent a team of experts a fortnight ago to draw maps of the project.
“We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a major Chinese company that is going to open a line of credit. They will fund the project to the tune of $1, 6 billion against a budget of $1, 2 billion,” said Nkomo.
“The Chinese delegation was in Matabeleland North last week to draw maps of the project. The maps have since been taken back to China.”
Commenting on fears raised by stakeholders that the recent establishment of mines in the Lower Gwayi catchment area would negatively affect the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, Sipepa Nkomo said he would institute investigations.
“We have to look at the Environmental Impact Assessment first but if the said mines are in the catchment area of the dam, then the two projects cannot co-exist because the water will either be contaminated by the coal and chemicals or the said mines will be flooded when the project is complete,” he said.
Recently, Sipepa Nkomo clashed with Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor Cain Mathema after the latter asked the army to intervene towards completion of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline.
Mathema accused Sipepa-Nkomo of delaying the project.
“I came into government on February 13 2009 and within two years the project is about to be completed that is why people like Mathema now want to claim credit. As a former deputy Minister of Water, why did he not engage the army during his tenure of office; were they on leave?”