Preliminary work has commenced on the development of a 10-megawatt Hydro-Power Station at Lake Gwayi Shangani, situated in Hwange district, near Cross Mabale. As part of a broader initiative to boost power generation across the country, the government is actively planning the construction of hydro-power stations at major dams nationwide.
The ongoing construction of Lake Gwayi Shangani will create multiple benefits for the country including solving Bulawayo’s perennial water crisis and creating a greenbelt for Matabeleland region among other economic benefits.
The century-old project failed to commence under successive administrations and only started under the Second Republic.
Progress is evident, with eleven contractors currently engaged in laying the 252km Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline. Approximately 60% of the pipeline’s route has been cleared, with 10km of trench already dug. To evaluate the project’s advancement, a team led by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Mayo recently conducted an on-site assessment.
Lucia Chayeruka, the assistant resident engineer from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), provided updates on the groundwork, including preliminary work on the hydro-power station. However, funding delays, requiring a monthly budget of at least US$8 million, have impeded progress.
The Lake Gwayi-Shangani dam, currently 39 meters high with a target of 72 meters, will not only supply water to Bulawayo but also support irrigation along the pipeline and facilitate power generation. Additionally, the lake is anticipated to become a tourist attraction.
Completion date for the development of Hydro-Power Station at Lake Gwayi Shangani
President Mnangagwa has prioritised the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani and is one of the projects he said he will ensure are completed during his second term.
While expectations initially aimed at impounding water this year, engineers have deemed it unsafe until the dam wall’s construction is complete. Furthermore, the relocation of affected communities remains pending.
Marjorie Munyonga, Zinwa’s corporate communications and marketing manager, reported substantial progress on the 252-kilometer pipeline, part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP). This project aims to alleviate Bulawayo’s recurrent water shortages. Surveys are being conducted to estimate water demand from institutions and households along the pipeline, and the construction of six pump stations is underway.
The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project, spanning 650 million cubic meters, is a cornerstone initiative of the Second Republic, promising transformative effects for Bulawayo and Matabeleland. The government is resolute in its commitment to timely completion, ensuring a reliable water supply to Bulawayo for the next 80 years, ultimately alleviating its dependency on other supply dams in Matabeleland South province.