WORK on the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project has not yet taken off despite the injection of $2 billion by government in the current financial year and the payment of $300 million advance fees
to the main contractor, a report compiled by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) on the progress of the project has indicated.
The Zinwa progress report was presented to the Bulawayo City Council’s future water supplies and water action committee two weeks ago.
The report also says Hope Mount Services, a company formed by Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) and Zimbabwe/Malaysia (Zimmal) to spearhead the ambitious pipeline, has failed to disburse US$60 million to kick-start the project.
According to the Zinwa report, Hope Mount Services was expected to disburse the US$60 million 60 days after the signing of a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Ministry of Water Resources and Zinwa on May 15 2003.
“The agreement for BOT was signed between the Ministry of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Zinwa, and Hope Mount Services representing MZWT and Zimmal on 15 May 2003,” the report said.
“Disbursement of US$60 million was expected 60 days after signing the contract but to date it has not been made available by Hope Mount Services.”
Under the new agreement, Hope Mount Services will be the financier of the project, MZWT the overseer while Zinwa will be the supervising authority.
The water project has been on the drawing board for the past 90 years but has been put on the back burner by previous governments and is now expected to cost in excess of $33 billion.
However, progress on the first phase of the project, which is the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam, has been compromised after it emerged that the Chinese company contracted to work on the project has not returned to the site after being paid $300 million before the December holiday last year.
However, Zinwa is understood to be making efforts to reverse the terms of the contract and induce the Chinese company to accept payment in local currency.
The report says that meetings between the government and the Chinese contractor have been lined up in a bid to have the contract executed in local currency.