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Ha-Belo construction delayed

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Bereng Mpaki

THE completion of the Ha-Belo industrial estate in Butha-Buthe has been delayed to August this year after encountering a myriad of challenges midway, the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) has said.

The M800 million project was supposed to have ended last month but is still 81 percent complete.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to deliver 16 factory shells which are expected to employ over 14 500 people upon completion of construction. Subsequent phases of the project will create an additional 41 000 jobs from 51 shells.

The LNDC, which is running the project, said the delays were caused by resurveys and digital terrain modelling of the project site.

Had the project been completed on schedule, then tenants were expected to have started setting up shop in the factory shells and boost employment.

With Lesotho’s employment creation prospects largely tied to the construction of new factory shells, the delayed completion of the Ha-Belo industrial estate has also delayed the creation of thousands of jobs.

The government owned project is being developed by the LNDC, with Unik Construction Engineering as the main contractor.

Lebohang Mohau, the LNDC’s general manager of the property development and management unit told the Lesotho Times this week that the delay will negatively impact on the occupation of the factory shells, and lead to delayed sublease conditions.

Additional costs are likely to arise but the LNDC is working on minimising its spending to avoid cost overruns.

“The project is 81 percent complete and current projections place completion on 31 August 2021,” Mr Mohau said.

“The implications of the delayed completion of construction works will be adverse on timely occupation of the factory shells, and lead to delayed sublease conditions.

“There could also be possible additional costs due to material price increases. However, current effort has focused upon cost optimisation.”

He attributed the delays to among other things design changes and introduction of omissions that culminated on additional geotechnical investigations re-evaluation of factory shell positions. Earthworks filling and provision of underground stormwater for donga and gullies that developed next to new factory shell positions, additional hard rock excavations additional excavations and substitution with imported gravel material to improve founding conditions of the buildings also attributed to the delay.

The works were also delayed by the re-design of the sewer network to increase discharge pipe capacities and improve cleansing and flow conditions, and the additional assignment of automated sprinkler system and fire suppression for additional factory shells.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation after construction activities were halted during the national lockdowns while above normal rainfalls and inclement weather have impeded progress.

Delays and disruptions to lead activities associated with construction planning, material procurements, off-site manufacturing, and introduction of new working methods, health and safety measures that were never envisaged during tendering stage also contributed to the delays, he said.

“Outstanding work includes electrical reticulation and construction of switching stations for the whole industrial estate.”

Other outstanding work includes telecommunication – fibre optic cable looping; automated fire sprinkler system and suppression; bitumen surfacing of approximately 3, 5 kilometres of roads; internal finishes of factory shell buildings that include telephone units, solar heaters, and internal fire hydrants. External works that cover car parks, fencing of each factory unit, guard houses, and landscaping are also yet to be completed.

 

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