from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS – THE new in-land Gwayi-Shangani Lake in Hwange is anticipated to revive tour activities that have been on slumber in the region.
It also comes amid a need to attract millennials and a new crop of tourists to the area.
Construction is set to be completed in December.
The Government renamed the massive project from a “dam” to a “lake” in July and is working on an integrated master plan to incorporate various economic activities such as tourism, agriculture, value chain, infrastructure development, health and well-being, food and security.
The lake, whose progress is around 42 percent, is located in Mabale area, Hwange district on the edge of Hwange National Park.
It is envisaged that there will be boating, cruise, fishing, picnic, dam viewing, wildlife viewing and hunting at the new lake.
Located on the edge of the biggest game park in Zimbabwe, the lake is expected to create a new tourism zone as thousands of elephants and other species are expected to migrate to the lake and its environs.
Elephants and lions make seasonal migration to the area for water and feeding causing widespread human-wildlife conflict.
The lake will occupy 10 000ha of land at full flooding and so far, government has said about 350 families from the Binga side will be displaced.
The lake will straddle on land on the boundary of three districts comprising Binga, Hwange and Lupane.
“We are still working on the plans to have the lake gazetted into a national park and there will be potential for massive tourism and new products there,” said Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu.
“This is what is being worked on in the integrated master plan which will soon be completed. Our planning is centred largely on creation of animal corridor to this place because that is unavoidable,” he said.
The lake wall is located in the steep gorges at the confluence of Gwayi and Shangani rivers and will be 72 metres high, with its length 305 metres.
It will have a capacity of 635 million cubic metres of water and will be the country’s third-biggest in-land water body after Tugwi Mukosi and Mutirikwi, both in Masvingo.
The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa government seeks to improve livelihoods of rural communities through the creation of an irrigation greenbelt for communities in Matabeleland North tapping from the dam.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) which upon completion is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.
It is one of the capital projects under the government’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
The dam’s construction and completion have been made a top priority this year and Government allocated ZWL$4,5 billion towards the project and more than ZWL$500 million has since been availed.
The 245km pipeline to Bulawayo will be completed in 2022.
There will also be a 10-megawatt power plant on site.
The project was first mooted in 1912 but had failed to take off because of lack of funding.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is spearheading the project for government while China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) was contracted to do civil works.
However, a traditional leader said they were unaware of the fate of locals likely to make way for the lake project.
“We have been told those on the Binga side will be moved and nothing has been said about this side. If the dam won’t affect our community due to flooding, then wildlife will because the whole area will automatically become a corridor,” said Chief Dingane-Nelukoba.
Evaluation work is underway to establish how many households will be affected, including along a 245km pipeline that will be constructed from the lake to Bulawayo.
– CAJ News