By TATENDA CHITAGU
MASVINGO — More villagers are expected to be displaced from their homes to pave way for the construction of the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is slowly taking shape, a report by the Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management has revealed.Initial estimates indicated that 3 000 families residing in the dam basin would be displaced, but the report predicts that the figure could be higher after the enumeration process.
“At full supply the reservoir will inundate approximately 9 600ha,” reads part of the report. “As a result, about 3 000 families will need resettlement. The actual number of families requiring resettlement will be known after the enumeration process, which is yet to be done.”
When The Standard visited the construction site last week, some families were busy pulling down their huts to make way for the construction taking place.
One of the affected villagers, Shuvai Rushangu, said she would be happy to move after government had compensated her.
“I will only be happy when we have been compensated,” she said as she monitored her son, Rasi Mandishona, pulling down one of her thatched huts.
The report noted that the US$19 million that was to cover compensation for the displaced would be insufficient, if the number of those affected increased.
Currently, 500 families are directly affected by construction work but the project was expected to displace over 3 000 households on completion.
Already, 400 families have had their properties assessed for compensation by the Ministry of Public Works.
“The current focus has been the resettlement of a small number of 56 families from the 400 assessed families in a desperate bid to get work going at the saddle dams,” reads the report.
“The aforementioned families are now on the verge of being resettled. It is hoped that the remaining 444 families will be resettled by October 2012.”
The report however noted that the delays in resettling the displaced villagers had stalled progress on the construction of the dam, especially in areas where blasting was required.
It blamed haggling among the Ministries of Water Resources Development; Local Government, Urban and Rural Development; Public Works and Lands and Rural Resettlement.
“Resettlement activities are being severely delayed as key government Ministries of Water, Local Government, Public Works and Lands are struggling to undertake their respective activities in the resettlement process. They have no funding for resettlement in their respective establishments,” reads the report.
A total of US$70, 6 million has been invested by the government into the project so far and a further US$45 million is expected before year end.
More displacements at Tokwe-Mukorsi
By TATENDA CHITAGU