The Zimbabwe Bio Energy has started clearing nearly 20 000 hectares at the vast Nuanetsi Ranch where over 500 families will be relocated to pave way for the completion of Tokwe-Murkosi dam before year end.
The land being cleared by ZBE is part of the 68 000 hectares of land donated to government by the Development Trust of Zimbabwe to resettle over 3 000 families from Gororo communal lands in Chivi who will be moved to pave way for the giant Tokwe-Murkosi dam.
The dam is due for completion by November this year and currently over 500 families have to be moved to allow the construction of five saddle dams while the remaining families should be moved after completion of the dam.
Masvingo provincial administrator Mr Felix Chikovo yesterday allayed fears that delays in resettling the over 500 families from Tokwe-Murkosi dam will delay the dam's completion.
Mr Chikovo said clearing of nearly 20 000 hectares of land by ZBE was already underway at Nuanetsi ranch after pegging of plots was done by Ministry of Lands officials at the site.
"ZBE has already started clearing of land at Nuanetsi ranch where we will settle over 500 families that should be moved to allow the smooth completion of five saddle dams in Chivi and we are quite optimistic that the families should be moved as soon as clearing of the land is completed. We are also happy with progress at the dam (Tokwe-Murkosi) which is going on according to plan,"he said.
Mr Chikovo added that construction of four of the five saddle dams has already been completed at Tokwe-Murkosi dam with the last saddle dam due for completion in the near future.
The Masvingo provincial administrator said recent rains that pounded southern parts of Masvingo precipitating floods had hampered progress in land clearing at Nuanetsi ranch adding that the recent lull in rain activity would allow work to progress.
"More ground could have been covered by now in clearing the land at Nuanetsi ranch had it not been for the heavy rains that have been falling in most parts of southern Masvingo but we are happy now that there is progress on the ground,"he added.
There were fears that delays in resettling the Tokwe-Murkosi families owing to lack of funds and shortage of land to resettle them might further delay completion of the much-awaited Tokwe-Murkosi dam which will become Zimbabwe's largest inland dam upon completion in November this year.
At least US$5 million is pumped into the Tokwe-Murkosi dam project by government every month to make sure that work does not stop as efforts to meet the November 2013 project completion deadline intensify.
The dam is seen as a long term panacea to Masvingo's food woes caused by recurrent droughts as the reservoir will provide water to irrigate over 25 000 hectares upon completion.
Delays in resettling the Tokwe-Murkosi families who also want to benefit from the dam's water had appeared to threaten further efforts to finally complete the project whose actual construction started in March 1998.