THE Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) says that all is in place for the commencement of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP II) with the construction of advance infrastructure set to commence on 9th of January 2019.
The LHDA’s chief executive officer, Refiloe Tlali, this week told the Lesotho Times that the construction work will now go ahead after the recent award of M394 million tender to the WBHO-LSP joint venture for the construction of advance infrastructure.
The advance infrastructure includes earthworks and the creation of platforms for buildings, water and wastewater systems, landfill, roads, drainage, electrical and telecommunications networks.
The WBHO-LSP joint venture comprises of WBHO, a South Africa and LSP Construction (Pty) Ltd, a Lesotho-registered company.
The LHDA’s chief executive officer Refiloe Tlali said at Polihali, where the Phase II Polihali Dam is to be built, the scope of work includes earthworks and the creation of platforms for buildings, water and wastewater systems, landfill, roads, drainage, electrical and telecommunications networks.
The LHDA is the implementing and management authority for the LHWP, on behalf of the government.
The LHWP is a multi-phased project to provide water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and to generate hydro-electricity for Lesotho. It was established by the 1986 Treaty signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.
The project entails harnessing the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Phase I of the LHWP, consisting of the Katse and Mohale dams, the ‘Muela hydropower station and associated tunnels was completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004. Phase II of the LHWP is currently in progress. It consists of two separate but related components: water transfer and hydropower generation.
The bilateral project which is estimated to cost at least M23 billion, is expected to provide about 3000 jobs at the peak of its operations.
The water transfer component of Phase II comprises an approximately 165m high concrete faced rock fill Dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers and an approximately 38km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.
Other Phase II activities include advance infrastructure (roads, accommodation, power lines and telecommunication) and the implementation of environmental and social mitigating measures.
The hydropower component of Phase II, which is currently under further feasibility studies, may include a pumped storage scheme, conventional hydropower such as the expansion of the ‘Muela infrastructure or new greenfield sites.
Its exact form will be determined on completion of the further feasibility studies. Phase II is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2024.
“The M394 million contract award (to the WBHO-LSP joint venture) is in line with the approved procurement policy and the provisions of the Phase II Agreement which advocate equal sharing of the monetary value of infrastructure works between Lesotho- and South African- registered contractors.” Ms Tlali said.
“It has taken years of planning and preparation to get to this point but come January 2019, with this second construction contract following that of the Polihali North East Access Road just recently awarded, construction vehicles will move on to the site.
“This demonstrates that Phase II’s seven-year construction period has started, bringing closer to reality the eagerly anticipated employment opportunities that the project brings. This is what we have been waiting for.”
Ms Tlali said the civils works and utilities contract is one of the several critical advance infrastructure components which must be completed before the construction of the main Phase II works, namely the Polihali Dam, the Transfer Tunnel and the Hydropower generation plant. She said the construction of this contract is expected to take just over two years.
“Phase II of the LHWP builds on the successful completion of Phase I in 2003. It delivers water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and utilises the water delivery system to generate hydro-electricity for Lesotho.
“Phase II will increase the current supply rate of 780 million cubic metres per annum incrementally to more than 1270 million cubic metres per annum. At the same time, it will increase the quantity of electricity generated in Lesotho and is a further step in the process of securing an independent electricity source to meet Lesotho’s domestic requirements,” Ms Tlali added.
The LHDA has since August this year been rolling out outreach programmes targeting small and medium sized registered contractors and related service providers. The outreach was in the form of workshops in Maseru, Mokhotlong, Quthing and Thaba-Tseka while in South Africa they were held in Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Ms Tlali said the objective of the workshops was to sensitise the potential contractors on the need to adhere to terms and conditions set out in the tender documents. She added that compliance with the terms and conditions places the bidders in a better position to compete for advertised projects.
“The LHDA is fully committed to delivering Phase II in accordance with the Phase II Agreement and the 1986 Treaty. This includes communicating with all stakeholders to ensure full understanding of the Phase II procedures, processes and progress.”
Ms Tlali said the LHDA believes that the workshops achieved their objective as contractors have been provided with information which places them in a better place to take advantage of the opportunities that Phase II of the project will bring.