Construction of Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi is set to resume early next month after Government secured $35 million required to complete the project. The Italian contractor that had abandoned the project due to non-payment of outstanding money is expected to start work soon.
The company, Salini Impregilio, had demobilised its equipment and removed most of its personnel from the dam site after suspending the contract in December 2014 over payment problems.
Since then, there has been no activity at the dam after the contractor demanded that Government provide payment to cover arrears and complete all the outstanding work.
The dam was about 95 percent complete when work stopped, with raising of the dam wall by four metres, and fortification of the upstream side of the wall, together with touch-ups on the gate house and electrification of the water outlet valves being major outstanding works.
However, Salini Impregilio has since started bringing back construction equipment such as excavators, tippers and front-end loaders together with its personnel to complete the project.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri yesterday said Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, raised the money to complete Tokwe-Mukosi Dam with work poised to start at the beginning of next month.
Speaking during a tour to assess the state of affairs at the dam, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri, who was in the company of Salini officials, said Government floated bonds to raise money for Tokwe-Mukosi Dam completion.
‘’We have managed to raise the $35 million that is required to complete this dam and the contractor has assured us of their readiness to start work as soon as possible because our target is to make sure that the rains that will fall this year will be captured after the completion of the dam,’’ she said.
‘’The contractor (Salini Impregilio) is busy bringing in their equipment, which they had removed together with their staff and they have told us that they will resume work at the beginning of next month such that by December this year the project will be completed,’’ she added.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government and Salini Impregilio were negotiating to strike an agreement on the exchange rate between the greenback and the euro as the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam was priced in euros.
Government wanted Tokwe-Mukosi Dam to be completed as the project had the potential to create over 500 000 direct and indirect jobs.
‘’The contractor has told us that by December this year this project will be ready for handing over to the Government of Zimbabwe, and we are here because we must start planning how our people will benefit from this project upon completion. There are a lot of investments that will come to this area because of this dam, including canning factories because there will be vast tracts of land that will be opened up for irrigation.’’
‘’I will soon be engaging with my Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development counterpart Dr (Joseph) Made so that there are plans on the ground about how irrigation water will be harnessed to benefit our people. The time for planning is now because the money to complete the dam has been secured and the contractor is now happy,’’ she added.
She challenged Salini Impregilio officials to be in constant touch with her office, for speedy resolution of problems they might have, so that there would be no further delays.
She said completion of the dam was delayed after Government diverted part of the funds meant for the project to the evacuation of over 3 000 families whose homes and property were submerged by floods in the Tokwe-Mukosi basin in early 2014.
Salini Impregilio project manager at Tokwe-Mukosi Mr Urbano Luzi said the much-awaited dam would be completed by the end of this year.
He said the dam was 95 percent complete and allayed fears that his company would produce a sub-standard structure.
‘’We are busy mobilising equipment and personnel so that we start work and by December this year we will have completed the dam and then hand it over in January by which time we hope water would have accumulated. Government has told us that the money is now there and we have agreed on everything though we had some small challenges over the issue of exchange rate from American dollars into euros,’’ he said.
“We are a reputable company and we are building a concrete-faced rock-fill dam and some reports that we hear that we will not be able to come up with a durable structure are all false. We are very committed to completing this project and deliver a quality product,’’ added Mr Luzi.
Tokwe-Mukosi’s construction is being wholly funded by the Government of Zimbabwe and at a cost of $255 million, making it arguably the biggest project undertaken by Government since independence in Masvingo.
The dam will become Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body with 1,8 billion cubic metres of water capacity and will also have the potential to irrigate over 25 000 hectares making Masvingo a potential breadbasket for Zimbabwe.
Construction of Tokwe-Mukosi started in 1998. herald