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Tokwe Mukorsi Dam nearing completions.

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According to a report carried in the Herald newspaper in July, the Tokwe Mukorsi Dam in Masvingo province is nearing completion. Construction had ceased following a dispute between the contractor and government over outstanding payments, an issue which now seems to have been resolved. The report says the Italian contractor, Salini Impregilio, has resumed work following the two year lapse in construction.

The Herald said, "The company has been shipping construction equipment back to the dam site over the past four weeks after government released money to complete the project. Salini Impregilo project manager at Tokwe Mukorsi, Mr Urbano Luzo, recently said the movement of equipment to complete the dam had been completed, adding preparations to resume work was going according to schedule". According to that schedule, the dam is due for completion in December of 2016, and will be handed over to government for commissioning in January next year.

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The Tokwe Mukorsi Dam is a concrete-face, rock-fill dam on the Tokwe River, just downstream of its confluence with the Mukorsi River, about 72km south of Masvingo. Construction on the dam began in June 1998 but stalled in 2008, before resuming in 2011. Heavy flooding in February 2014 caused a partial failure on the downstream face of the dam. By late February the unplanned rising reservoir behind the dam caused evacuations upstream. In 2014, Steven Muza, Zimbabwe's representative of Salini Impregilo, in a report compiled by NewZimbabwe.com said, "A lot of negative things have been said about this dam but let me put it on record that the dam wasn't collapsing. There was only some slippages of water into the rock fill and we also did not envisage the flooding which happened this year, the first time in 40 years for the province to get such rainfall".

In 2014, there was much debate on the state of the wall (then 80% complete) after the flood, though the construction technique is such that no real danger had been posed to the structure. As the wall had slowly been growing, water had begun backing up behind the wall, and throughout 2013 several avid anglers had already begun stocking the dam with fish; chief among them were bass, although many indigenous bream such as Rendalli or pinkies (Tilapia rendalli), macs (Oreochromis macrichir), mozzies (Oreochromis mossambicus) and Red-eyed labeo (Labeo cylindricus), a favoured species for bass, were also moved. Red-eyed labeo is a very common and hardy species throughout Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa, and hopefully it would have survived Tokwe's drastic draw-down. Before the flood and breach, the considerable water body would have sustained the stocked fish until completion of the dam without a problem. However, after the breach in 2014, the dam dropped rapidly, and it was the opinion of anglers that little, if any, of the stocked fish would survive the low water levels and the possible onslaught of netting expected with the lower water level.

When completed, the dam will be Zimbabwe's biggest inland water body (creating a 1 750 000 000 [m.sup.3] reservoir) with a capacity to generate 50 megawatts of electricity (though initially installed with 12 megawatts of capacity), which is enough to power the whole of Masvingo province. With a 90 metre dam wall, the water is expected to push back 35km and create several islands and vast fishable shorelines. In addition, the surrounding districts (Masvingo, Chiredzi, Ngundu, Triangle),which boast a strong agricultural potential (all other factors being equal), could be turned into a vast green belt. The tourism advantages are obvious, as Tokwe is expected to rival Muturikwe Dam, possibly becoming a major resort after Kariba. A national park is planned along the shores, as well as a large hotel.

Should the gods smile on us, and we receive a normal rainy season, the capture by Tokwe of two major river systems should see the dam fill quite rapidly. Even if fish stocks will be sparse in the initial stages of filling, it would be phenomenal to be able to boat the newly-filled dam amongst flooded vegetation, old homesteads and other submerging infrastructure. We will be there and hope to see you on the water!
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Title Annotation:Update
Publication:African Fisherman
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Aug 1, 2016
Words:704
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