LHDA awards tenders worth M187m

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Pascalinah Kabi

LESOTHO Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has awarded three major tenders worth of M186.6 million to private consultants for the design and supervision of Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II.

South African-based AECOM SA (Pty) Ltd won the tender for the design and supervision of construction of the Polihali Western Access Road (PWAR) from Matsoku Valley to the dam site.

AECOM SA partnered with two local sub-consultants AECOM Lesotho and RWB Consulting Engineers in the contract worth M66.7 million and over four years. They started work in October.

This week, LHDA Phase II Divisional Manager, Tente Tente told a press conference they decided to outsource the consultancy after realising that in-house work did not yield desired results in Phase I.

“The four year, approximately M37.4 million power and telecommunications infrastructure contract went to a joint venture between South African-based Plantech and SM Consulting, a Lesotho based engineering consultancy,” Mr Tente said.

“It is envisaged that fibre optic telecoms cables will piggy back on the 40-50 kilometers of powerlines which will be erected along the corridor created by the Polihali Western Access Road and will provide the power and telecommunications critical to the dam and tunnel construction sites.”

Mr Tente said the new line was needed to supply power to the tunnel boring machines as well as the equipment at the construction sites such as aggregate crushing plants, concrete plants, tunnel ventilation systems and workshops.

Another company, Metsi a Senqu-Khubelu Consultants Joint Venture – consisting of prominent engineering consultancy firms of Aurecon, Knight Piesold, Hatch Goba and SMEC (all from South Africa) and FM Associates from Lesotho – won the three and half year contract worth M82.5 million for the design and construction supervision of the diversion tunnels.

The tunnels will divert the river away from the dam site during the construction.

Mr Tente assured the public that preparations for the Polihali Dam and Hydropower stations were all underway and on time.

“People might be worried about the phase II project because they are not seeing any ongoing activities, but I can assure the nation that everything is on schedule and there is a lot of work being done on the ground,” he said.

He said the authority had already paid M320 million of the M700 million it had already committed to spending on tenders.

The phase II is estimated to cost M23 billion.

Mr Tente said the tender regulations were designed in a way that enabled a “50/50 mix of Lesotho and South African companies”.

He said this in response to complaints by local firm, Elite Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd who accused LHWP of flouting procurement regulations in the awarding of the Polihali North East Access Road tender last year.

“I know that this has been on the lips of Basotho and we are pushing the 50/50 element with a purpose. To date, 48 percent of the contracts have been awarded to local companies, 49 percent to South African firms while the remaining balance went elsewhere,” Mr Tente said.

He said due to the authority’s corruption history, the LHDA had developed an anti-corruption policy to ensure that contracts were corruption-free.

Mr Tente said Elite Consulting was given a chance to interrogate the LHDA tender awarding processes as per the authority’s policy to give unsuccessful bidders an opportunity to see why they were unsuccessful.

He said there was a fine balance between awarding contracts to Lesotho and South African firms, adding that they also have briefings with both countries’ potential bidders for all LHDA contracts as per the procurement policies.

The roads, power and telecommunications infrastructure erected as part of the Phase II advance infrastructure will remain in place for public use long after the completion of the project.

The new roads will provide alternative routes to Mokhotlong and reduce travelling time, making the awarding of contracts another important milestone towards the successful delivery of phase II.

 

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