A ballooning utility debt has rendered Chinwe Irrigation Scheme dysfunctional as villagers cannot afford to clear the $99 000 they owe to key service providers ZINWA and ZESA.

Established in 1994 and covering 64 hectares, the irrigation scheme has been turned into a white elephant owing to failure to reach a consensus between the farmers and utility service providers.

Chinwe Irrigation Scheme Chairman Mr Ngonidzashe Shoko said efforts for a payment plan hit a snag after the service providers said the plan fell short of what they expected.

“When government cleared credits for people we had a $58 000 credit and we were told only $18 000 was cleared. As we speak we owe ZESA $89 000 while ZINWA is owed $10000,” said Mr Shoko.

Ward 12 Councillor Mrs Nokuthula Ndlela says she will knock at every door to get the scheme up and running as the whole community stands to benefit.

“We believe the scheme can help alleviate poverty in this area,” Mrs Ndlela said.

The scheme benefitted villagers from Choka, Marumo, Sipada and Madubeko as school children could pay for their fees using earnings from the produce.

At its fullness, the scheme contributed 30 tonnes of wheat under the command agriculture programme.

It has two tractors received from the mechanisation department which are lying idle while the five-year capacity water body from Chinwe dam remains unutilised.