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Stakeholders meet over water project

Letuka Chafotsa
Maseru

Mark-Matchett-Phase-II-Executive-Manager
Mark-Matchett-Phase-II-Executive-Manager

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) on Thursday held a breakfast meeting for contractors, consultants and other stakeholders to share critical information regarding Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

The authority is the implementing agency of the LHWP, which is a multiphase project established by a 1986 treaty between Lesotho and South Africa.
The project involves the construction of dams and tunnels in the two neighbouring nations, and the generation of hydro-electric power in Lesotho.

South Africa seeks to augment its water-supply for both domestic and industrial use through the project, while Lesotho expects to benefit from infrastructure such as roads, as well as royalties and electricity, from the initiative.

Phase One of the LHWP, consisting of the construction of Katse and Mohale dams, Muela hydropower station and associated tunnels, was inaugurated in 2004, with Phase Two processes initiated in 2010.
Phase Two of the project would, among others, see Polihali Dam being constructed at the confluence of Khubelu and Senqu rivers beginning 2017, with the project earmarked for completion in 2022. Polihali is set to be connected to Katse Dam through a 38-kilometre tunnel.

Last month, King Letsie III, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and South African President Jacob Zuma were among the dignitaries and local communities who attended the launching ceremony of LHWP Phase Two in Tlokoeng, Mokhotlong District, which is the site of the Polihali Dam.

In her opening remarks at Thursday’s breakfast show held at a local hotel, the LHDA Chief Executive Officer, Refiloe Tlali, said the indaba sought to discuss details pertaining to the LHWP Phase Two, with stakeholders.
“The purpose of this meeting is to share with you the proceedings of the LHWP Phase Two, in order to harmonise our working relationship throughout the project for it is meant for our economic development as Basotho,” Tlali said.

Tlali further explained how the LHWP is structured, emphasising it is a joint-project of the Lesotho and South African governments, which should benefit businesses and communities of both neighbouring nations.
Tlali noted the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC), which consists of three delegates per country, is accountable and responsible for the implementation of the project; the LHDA is the implementing authority of the initiative within Lesotho, while the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) does the same in South Africa.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, the LHWC chief delegate (SA), Dr Zodwa Dlamini, said last month’s launch of Phase Two signified that contractors should be ready and prepare themselves for the M15billion project.
“This launch was to say Phase II is here, so you should be ready to work on the project,” Dlamini said.
Present also on Thursday was the LHWP Phase II Executive Manager, Mark Matchett, who spoke about the schedule for issuing the first batch of tenders.
The LHWP Phase II Divisional Manger Tente Tente also shed light on procurement processes for the project.
“While the LHDA would foster competitiveness, transparency, cost-effectiveness and quality, preference would be given to suppliers of goods and services in Lesotho, South Africa, the Southern African Development community (SADC) member states and then internationally, in that order.
“Consultants and contractors of Lesotho and South Africa will share the value of all infrastructure works on an equal monetary basis, taking into account, amongst other things, their shareholding and operational experience.
“In the recruitment of personnel, preference will be given to nationals of Lesotho, South Africa and SADC member-states in that order,” Tente said.

Tente said through lessons learned from Phase One of the project, the LHWP had adopted an anti-corruption policy to curb elements that tainted the mega initiative.
“Phase IA and IB of the project were tainted by corruption, which caused the integrity of the project to be undermined and questioned,” Tente said.
“In light of the Phase One experiences, the Phase Two agreement provides in Article 16, for the development and adoption of an anti-corruption policy for the project.”

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