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Majoro launches M14 billion water project

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Bereng Mpaki

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro on Thursday launched a M14 billion national water project in Ha-Setene, Leribe to address the country’s lowland areas’ water needs.

Dubbed the Lesotho Lowlands Water Development Project phase two (LLWDP II), the projects is meant to address the chronic potable water shortages in Lesotho’s lowlands to promote socio economic development.

The project is funded by the government, the World Bank and the European Union (EU) through the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Lesotho’s lowlands are divided into eight zones from Butha-Buthe to Quthing and the LLWDP II is being implemented in water scarce areas within zones 2 (Hlotse), 3 (Maputsoe), 6 (Mafeteng) and 7 (Mohale’s Hoek).

Among the high-level dignitaries present at the launch was the World Bank country representative Yoichiro Ishihara, Water Minister Nkaku Kabi, Public Works Minister Lebohang Monaheng and Communications, Science and Technology Minister Keketso Sello. Former Deputy Prime Minister and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing also attended the event.

In his address, Dr Majoro expressed delight that the project was finally taking off after 20 years of mobilising the necessary funding.

“I am happy to be officially launching the implementation of the LLWDP II,” Dr Majoro said.

“While I was still the Finance minister, I signed financing agreements with international partners some of whom are here with us today. We signed agreements amounting to M14 billion to finance the lowlands project.

“So, what we are witnessing today is a result of years of financial negotiations that resulted in financing agreement signings by the government of Lesotho with the international partners.”

He said a water treatment plant to be constructed at Ha-Setene will produce 25 million litres of water daily to service areas in Hlotse, Tsikoane and Maputsoe and other villages that already have pipe networks. He said the project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Dr Majoro said access to clean water was essential for tackling poverty, health and for economic development through activities such as factories and agriculture, power generation and mining.

The project will include construction of bulk water infrastructure including intake structures, pump stations, a water treatment plant, service reservoirs, transmission lines and booster pumps.

The completion of the project is expected to result in the improvements of the distribution systems and implementation of low-scale sanitation and hygiene measures to improve service delivery.

It will also build the capacity of service providers to reduce non-revenue water (NRW), improve billing and revenue collection, and strengthen overall planning and monitoring.

For his part, Mr Ishihara said the World Bank was supporting the LLWDP II with US$80 million (about M1, 2 billion).

“This is the largest World Bank financed project in Lesotho. And this is not only because water requires a lot of investment but also because the water sector affects many areas of human life like human rights, health, education, private sector.”

Mr Metsing, who is also the legislator of the area, commended Dr Majoro’s government for continuing the project which was set in motion by past regimes demonstrating a high-level of political maturity.

He said the recruitment of unskilled labourers for the project should prioritise local communities that can also protect the infrastructure at a later stage.

On the same day, Dr Majoro also officiated a sod-turning of the Maputsoe Boreholes Refurbishment and Construction of Water Treatment Plant.

The short-term project is part of the LLWDP II meant to address urgent water shortages in Maputsoe that arose due to the rapid growth of population in the area thereby overwhelming supply.

To be completed within six months, the project is expected to increase potable water supply in the region by 80 percent.

Dr Majoro said so bad is the water shortage in Maputsoe that manufacturing firms in the area were on the verge of closing shop.

“The factories in Maputsoe employ thousands of workers and if the firms leave due to water shortages, then lots of jobs would be lost. We are hopeful that this project will change their minds,” Dr Majoro said.

 

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