AT least US$20 million is required for the construction of the 63km Zhivhe-Beitbridge canal that is expected to alleviate the border town's critical water shortage. The acting chief irrigation engineer for Matabeleland South province, Engineer Tamuka Moyo, yesterday said the project had taken longer to complete due to the unavailability of funds.
Eng Moyo said Government stopped funding the project after the introduction of the multi-currency regime.
Construction of the canal is also expected to turn the 63km zone into a greenbelt through the setting up of irrigation schemes and other horticulture projects on its course to Beitbridge town. Eng Moyo said they had so far carried out feasibility studies, surveys and other preliminary work, including the clearance of irrigation land.
Beitbridge town pumps 3 000 cubic millimetres of water against a daily requirement of 15 000 cubic millimetres. Zhivhe Dam, which was constructed in 1995, is one of the 10 biggest water bodies in the country.
Soon after the dam construction Government undertook to construct the canal in a space of two years, though this has remained a dream.
Broken down earthmoving equipment and a few bricks have been lying idle on site. An 18-hectare Zhivhe-Ndambe irrigation scheme has been completed through the assistance of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Senator for Beitbridge Cde Tambudzani Mohadi has also expressed concern over the delay in implementing the project.
She said it was worrying that Government appears to have forgotten about the construction of the canal.