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Dam project set to begin

Mpeshe Selebalo


MASERU — Construction of the multi-million-dollar Metolong Dam will begin in December, Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) chief executive officer, Sophia Mohapi, said on Thursday.

The project, which is being funded by the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), seeks to provide clean water for industrial and domestic use to people in urban areas.

“Construction of the dam is expected to start in December,” Mohapi said.

“The deadline for bids to construct the water treatment plant is August, with the construction beginning in October.”

The government of Lesotho signed a US$362.5 million compact agreement with the United States organisation in 2007.

About US$164 million is coming from the MCC while the rest of the money is expected to come from other donors.

Mohapi said they had already identified and approved four construction firms for the water treatment works and the tender for the project will be awarded in August.

She urged small local contractors to work closely with larger contractors if they are to exploit the massive opportunities in the construction sector.

“One of the requirements of the MCC is that advertising for tenders must be international and there must be no special treatment for any contractor,” Mohapi said.

She said this requirement posed a major challenge to construction firms as most of them did not have the necessary skills and capacity to carry out projects of this magnitude.

The Metolong project has three components, namely the main dam, the water treatment plant and the conveyance system to transport water to identified areas.

Construction of these components is expected to take place during the same period which should provide massive opportunities to local contractors.

“We also work together with Wasa (the Water and Sewerage Authority) to build pipes that will distribute water to the villages and industries and part of that project is already being implemented,” she said.

Mohapi said the conveyance system will serve areas such as Roma, Maseru, Mazenod, Morija and Teyateyaneng in Berea.

The project will also cater for the provision of water in rural areas.

At least 250 villages dotted around the country are expected to benefit from the project.

A total of US$32 million has been allocated for the project.

About US$122.4 million (M905 million) of the compact will be used to build and rehabilitate 138 clinics, 11 hospitals, a research laboratory and a blood bank to serve the whole country.

MCA head of infrastructure, Keketso Chalatse, said construction for the health sector will be divided into four lots and qualifying contractors have to take no less than one lot which would be made up of about 35 clinics.

A total of seven health centres will be built while 131 centres will be rehabilitated.

“A company must have enough financial muscle and capacity to be able to carry out the job as they will be required to at least take one lot more depending on its ability and capacity to do so” said Chalatse.

Local contractors will have to merge and form bigger construction companies to increase their capacity to carry out such huge projects or find ways of forming partnerships with bigger international companies to fully exploit these opportunities, he said.

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