Agri Western Cape has welcomed the long overdue construction on the Clanwilliam Dam wall, which will finally start on Monday.
Minister of Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti says he will turn the first sod in a ceremony to mark the start of construction.
The R2.5 billion project will raise the dam wall by 13 metres, which will double its capacity and provide enough additional water to irrigate a further 5,000 hectares of farmland
The CEO at Agri Western Cape, Carl Opperman, says the department has been dragging its feet for years and claims that the budget for the project vanished.
Opperman says the project could have helped assist farmers who were hard-hit by the severe drought, had it been completed sooner.
He claims the increased dam capacity will boost the economy of the area.
Between 4 000 and 5000 additional hectares of land will be under irrigation. He says this will lead to additional jobs and extra produce.
The preparatory work was done years ago, including the rerouting of the N7 that would have been flooded otherwise once the wall had been raised.
A completion date has not yet been confirmed.
This should have been done two, three years ago.— Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape CEO
The ministers and the Department of Water Affairs was just dragging their feet and the money allocated just vanished.— Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape CEO
If the dam was in place, we could have helped the farmers in the severe drought that we had.— Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape CEO
In the dry period we had, when the die was basically zero, it was a perfect time to do the construction. Now it's the first dam in the Western Cape that's 100% full.— Carl Opperman, Agri Western Cape CEO
Listen to the discussion on The John Maytham Show: