Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Vumba villagers face fresh threat

By Jeffrey Muvundusi

Hundreds of villagers around Vumba, Burma Valley and downstream communities in Zimunya are in grave danger as the deadly Tropical Cyclone Idai-induced rains — which continue to pound the vicinity, have filled up dams, affecting their walls, the Daily News can reveal.

Residents around the dams are frantically clearing spillways to prevent the water from running over the dam walls and further affecting the already delicate walls. Warnings are being sent to villagers in the paths of the streams and rivers.

Witchwood Dam, which sits above Mutore village, in upper Vumba is filling up. Continued rains are now threatening to wash away the brittle dam wall.

This exposes hundreds of villagers even further downstream of the village and the Burma Valley as everyone focuses on Chimanimani where an estimated 100 people have died with over 200 still missing.

Vumba has itself seen massive landslides, a development likely to prevent authorities from fully appreciating the threat that exists. Roads have collapsed in landslides in the sparsely-populated Chimanimani and Rusitu Valley.

Wilfred Munetsi, a manager at Leopard Rock Hotel who noticed the dam wall, shared the pictures in a WhatsApp group for Friends of the Vumba to which Marianne Buttress responded by urging their immediate evacuation.

“Get them out in case, take what they can now before it’s too late,” Buttress said. Her husband Peter then urged the clearing of spill ways to avoid the water from flowing over the wall.

“Please get some locals to clear the spillway of weeds and obstacles so that the water can escape more easily without it going over the wall like they did with Nyameni Dam.”

Sue Fenwick consulted a water engineer — Geoff White using the photos — who said while the slip was common in persistent rains, there was need to warn people and strengthen the dam by adding weight to the bottom of the slip to stop further movement.

“Downstream slip (is) fairly common in high persistent rains … Flow (is) not too bad in the photos. They will need to add weight to the bottom of the slip to stop further movement. Does not appear to be any further cracking on the crest which is good,” White said.

He said the risk of bursting would have been greater if there was seepage at the base of the wall.

There is need for authorities to assess all the dams in the area to see their strength before disaster strikes as rains continue albeit on a lesser scale. DailyNews