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LHWP awards M500 million powerline contract

Bereng Mpaki

THE Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has awarded a M494 million contract for the construction of a 132kV power line to South African company Mkhulu Electro Distribution Projects (Pty) Ltd.

According to the LHDA, the 38-kilometre power line will connect the existing Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) transmission network in Matsoku Valley to the Polihali dam construction site.

This is the second of the two bulk power components of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II advance infrastructure. The project commenced in September 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2021.

LHWP is a multi-phased, multi-billion maloti project between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.

It comprises water transfer and hydropower generation components with associated ancillary developments.  The water transfer component entails the construction of dams and tunnels in Lesotho, enhancing the use of water from the Senqu (Orange) River and its tributaries by storing, regulating, diverting and controlling the flow to effect the delivery of specified quantities of water to South Africa, and utilising the delivery system to generate hydro-electric power in Lesotho.

Phase I included the construction of the Katse Dam, the transfer and delivery tunnels, ‘Muela Hydropower Plant and the Mohale Dam. The Phase II water transfer component comprises a dam at Polihali and a gravity tunnel that will connect the reservoir at Polihali with the Katse reservoir.

Commenting on the contract, LHDA chief executive Tente Tente said the award would facilitate the implementation of Phase II.

“Investing in the extension and upgrading of the bulk power transmission network in Lesotho is not only to facilitate the implementation of Phase II alone,” Mr Tente said.

“It will also bring long term benefits to the country by increasing access to power for people and businesses in remote areas, as was the case in Phase I of the LHWP.”

LHDA said the works under this contract include construction of a new, a 38-kilometer long 132kV line between the existing LEC transmission network in the Matsoku Valley to the Polihali Dam construction site, and the upgrading of existing LEC lines from Ha-Lejone to Matsoku, and Maputsoe to Katse.

“The upgrade comprises the installation of insulation and shielding earth conductors. The works also include the installation of optical ground wire (fibre) communication line from Maputsoe to Katse and Polihali. This line is intended to enhance communication at the project area.”

LHDA said Mkhulu Electro Distribution Projects has extensive experience in overhead transmission line construction and civil engineering projects in southern Africa including in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.

“In March 2019, the LHDA awarded the tender for the construction of a 33kV line and the diversion of an existing 33kV LEC distribution line to LSP Construction at a contract value of M41 million. The 33kV line, which is constructed from the existing Letšeng/Mokhotlong distribution network will supply power to the Polihali construction village site, temporarily.

“Sections of an existing LEC 33kV distribution network between Letšeng and Mokhotlong, will be submerged in five different positions by the new Polihali Dam at full supply level necessitating the diversion of the existing line,” the LHDA said in a statement.

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