From George Maponga in Masvingo
Plans to build a 5-megawatt mini-hydro power plant at Lake Mutirikwi here have gathered momentum with a local firm behind the $US14 million project awaiting independent assessment of the dam wall before actual construction can kick off.
The project promises better times for power supply across Masvingo province as Great Zimbabwe Hydro(GZH) which is developing the project will feed the power into the national grid.
Lake Mutirikwi is Zimbabwe’s second largest inland water body after Tugwi-Mukosi and GZH’s planned power plant will gobble a cumulative $US14 milliom and produce 5 MW that will be fed into the national grid.
The power project dovetails with Government’s plans to make Zimbabwe a net power exporter by 2024 which is line with Vision 2030.
GZH plans to recruit hundreds of locals from Murinye and Chikwanda communal lands to work at the project with the firm’s project coordinator Mr Hubert Chipfumbu indicating that they had already met the traditional leadership in those aress to get their buy-in for the project.
The current Covid-19-induced national lockdown was hampering progress in the project.
“We recently met traditional leaders from communities around the dam and assured them that we will give locals priority in terms of employment when work starts on our 5-MW power plant that will cost about $US14 million with output being fed into the national grid,” said Mr Chipfumbu.
Dam assessment experts from South South Africa, Kenya and Sri Lanka are expected in the country next month to look at Lake Mutirikwi so that the power plant investment was guaranteed.
“Our insurers want guarantees on the project, so we are bringing in foreign experts who will look at the dam wall to make sure sure that its secure enough to house a power plant.”
Mr Chipfumbu said the firm was good to go on the project having completed all the requirements including the environmental impact assessment(EIA).
“We have completed all the requirements and we are ready to go to the next stage and our major challenge at the moment is the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced the economy into lockdown.”
GZH plans to build a 22km power line from the power plant to the evacuation point at Lake Mutirikwi where the electricity will be fed into the national grid.
The Lake Mutirikwi power plant will be the first out of two plants earmarked for the province in the near future.
There are also plans to build a 15-MW plant at Tugwi-Mukosi which will is expected to cost $US$20million.
Feasibility study for the project has since been completed.