Contractors rush to meet Lake Gwayi-Shangani deadline

A SYMPHONY of massive floodlights lights up the sky at night over the construction site of the gigantic Gwayi-Shangani Lake in the Hwange district of Matabeleland North province.

The sound of heavy construction machinery fills the night air. Silhouetted against the dimly lit sky, construction workers in their protective gear meticulously carry out their activities late into the night.

Their goal is to meet the deadline that has been extended to early next year.

Contractors at the Grand Dam have recently introduced night shifts to ensure work is completed within the agreed time frame.

A total of 610 workers are involved in the project and 50 of them are employees of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) while the other 560 workers have been hired by the main contractor, China International Water and Electric Corp ( Pvt) Limited.

When completed, Lake Gwayi-Shangani will become the third largest inland body of water after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi, both in Masvingo province.

The large dam is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, an idea that was conceived more than a century ago and was only brought to fruition by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.

Gwayi-Shangani Lake is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region.

Located about 6.5 km from the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, the concrete arch dam was designed and built by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and has a gross capacity of 650 million cubic meters.

The project is a milestone that will transform the lives of many communities living along the dam pipeline in Bulawayo, as irrigation systems will be established taking advantage of the abundant water that will be pumped through the pipeline.

The dam is a roller-compacted concrete gravity dam, which implies that it depends on its weight for its stability. It will have a cove weir, with a spillway 200 meters long while the maximum water depth will be 59 meters.

The construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani is the first phase of the project which also involves the laying of a 245 km pipeline from the dam to Bulawayo.

The delivery of pipes for the pipeline which are imported, has started.

The Chronicle on Thursday evening visited the site during which the press team had the opportunity to witness the works.

Some workers were busy removing coatings from masonry surfaces where concrete was to be laid while others were busy roughening the surface using twist drills and broaching tools.

Zinwa Deputy Resident Engineer Lucio Chayeruka said he introduced day and night shifts, each numbering at least 300 people as part of efforts to speed up the process.

“At any one time we have 300 people working on site but in total the number of people employed is 600. We now have two teams split into two groups, each with 300 people working during the day and the other at night. ” he said.

“At night, we take a break from 00:00 a.m. to 01:00 a.m., while during the day it is from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Eng Chayeruka said that regarding the height of the dam wall, this year alone they made 19 meters.

At the bottom, Gwayi-Shangani Lake is 24 meters wide but it narrows as it rises and when it reaches a height of 72 meters, the highest part will be 12 meters wide.

“Since the start of this project, we have never advanced at this rate and there is tremendous progress. We are pouring 15,000 cubic meters of concrete every month and so far the height of the dam wall is now 36.5 meters.” he said.

Eng Chayeruka said about 95% of the workforce comes from Hwange, Lupane and Binga districts.

He said that of the 50 executives they have, eight are women.

Eng Chayeruka said that to avoid any interruption of the work, they have 100 Kva backup generators, which are used in the event of a power cut.

At least 15,000 cubic meters of concrete, corresponding to around 1,500 dump trucks, are used every day. Similarly, 150 tons of cement and 150 tons of fly ash are also used daily, illustrating the scale of the dam.

The contractor has a construction capacity of four meters per month, on the entire wall of the dam, the crest length of which is 361 meters.

To minimize downtime and save costs, Eng Chayeruka said the contractor digs stone for concrete nearby and grinds it at the two on-site plants.

“At the quarry, we extract the rock at night to meet the quantities of materials needed,” he said.

Crushing plants have the capacity to crush 250 cubic meters per hour while a concrete plant mixes around 200 cubic meters per hour.

There are also two factories to sift sand from the river and a steel fabrication plant where they assemble the modest power station large enough to supply the immediate area.

Ms Marjorie Munyonga, Zinwa’s communications and marketing manager, said workers at the dam site started working around the clock in April to ensure the project meets its completion deadline at the start of the year. next year.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said all the materials needed to complete the dam project are on site.

He said it was important to meet the deadlines given that the project had been dragging on for a very long time.

“The goal was to complete the construction of the dam early next year.

“Since they are now working day and night, there is a lot of progress and we are confident that the deadline will be met,” Minister Moyo said.

He said the delivery of pipes that will bring water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo confirms the government’s commitment to complete the project to address water shortages in Bulawayo while transforming the lives of people in Matabeleland North. and Bulawayo.

“We would like to express our gratitude to President Mnangagwa and the Second Republic because he is the one who made every effort to see this project through to completion,” Minister Moyo said.

The construction of the dam will transform the Matabeleland region as irrigation schemes will be established along the pipeline, thereby turning the region into a green belt and providing a permanent solution to Bulawayo’s water shortages.

The government has identified irrigable land covering 10,000 hectares along the pipeline.

About Keith Tatum

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