Tokwe-Mukorsi floods: The true story

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THE noble construction of the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam in Chief Gororo’s land in Chivi District, Masvingo (about 500km South of Harare) for the purposes of irrigation in the Lowveld and water supply in Masvingo seems to be creating bits of problems.
But the problems, pundits contend, are temporary compared to the benefits the country will accrue from the completed dam.
Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam is being constructed by an Italian company, Salini Impregilio, with funding from the government at a cost of US$156 million and the 90m tall dam wall has been insured for 60 million Euros.
The dam wall is being constructed where Turwi and Tokwe-Mukorsi rivers meet just next to the Nyuni Mountain.
However, problems are arising because the dam is being constructed in a territory hosting more than 3 000 families, most of whom live upstream and have been affected by the excess water resulting from rare incessant rains in the area this season.
But when successfully completed, Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam will be the largest inland dam in Zimbabwe with a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres and a flood area covering more than 9 600 ha.
The dam is expected to support irrigation programmes in the Masvingo province especially of sugarcane which is expected to significantly reduce the fuel import-bill through production of ethanol.
Already the country is using ethanol for blending.
Areas like Chivi that have experienced perennial droughts are set to become greenbelts making communities self-sufficient.
Water supply to the city of Masvingo currently facing severe water shortages will improve.
The project is undoubtedly huge and will change the face not only of Masvingo, but the country.
Unexpected huge rainfall is the reason behind the current challenges being experienced by communities.
Sources who spoke to The Patriot during a recent visit revealed that Government in consultation with the people in the area had agreed that the people would be moved to Mwenezi where they were expected to start a new life.
As early as October 2013, about 400 families were moved from villages in Chivi district to Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi district, some 100 kilometres away, where each household was given a four-hectare piece of land.
Assessments by the Government to determine how much each family would be given as compensation was done and people were given money ranging from US$900 to US$48 000 totalling over US$4 million.
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, the Provincial Minister says Government needs at least US$9 million for the whole process to be finished.
The compensation is determined by the infrastructural developments within the households including things such as orchards.
Construction of the dam which has been on and off due to financial challenges was estimated to be finished within a period of five years and the massive inflow of water as currently recorded had not been anticipated.
However, the Italian company which is constructing the dam is working around the clock under the guidance of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to ensure that the dam is completed on time.
Contrary to reports that the dam wall is collapsing, Champions Insurance operations director, Munyaradzi Kativhu is quoted in the media as saying according to a risk management analysis carried out, the dam will not collapse.
Speaking to The Patriot, Innocent Mukondo one of the villagers in the area attributed the ‘disaster’ to poor communication.
“We have always been told that we would move and people were given money and transport to move to the new place,” he said.
“For instance, my family was given over US$3 000 as compensation while others such as Mr Tinago was given as much as US$48 000 because he has an orchard and the house he built is of high standard.
“The problem, however, is that when others moved others did not due to poor communication which has resulted in this problem.
“The loss of property and crops has also been a result of the mixed messages we get from people who come every year telling us not to grow crops while others say we should.
“It is unfortunate that this year when people thought of growing crops because of the drought last year, it has rained and the crops have been destroyed.”
Another villager, Reward Masango, said people knew they would move, but the recent developments were not anticipated.
“People knew they would move, but not as urgently as is happening now,” he said.
“We had been told that a lot of water would only be experienced after five years when the dam was completed and that is the reason why some people did not move.”
Others have not moved for sentimental reasons.
“I was born here and have lived here for the past forty years,” said Mary Sigauke.
“This is where my parents are buried and it is difficult to move from here because a part of me is here.
“It is not a shoddy job, but poor communication and the weather that has put us in this situation where we have been forced to hurry things.”

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