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The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) has reached its next stage of development with the governments of South African and Lesotho agreeing to the equitable sharing of contracts to be awarded during its construction. The South African consultants and contractors will share the works with Lesotho contractors on a 50:50 basis, This will include all the advance infrastructure works.

Lesotho Highlands Water ProjectIn all of these contracts, black participation, women, youth and disabled persons are guaranteed a 20% share of the South African portion, according to Water and Sanitation Deputy Director-General Lindiwe Lusenga.

To date, up to 16 consultancy contracts have been awarded and are in force, with six contracts in evaluation and approval stages. Two contracts are at the bidding stage.

This joint venture will not only supply water to Gauteng but also generate between 2 000 to 3 000 jobs. In addition, it will result in a hydroelectric power generation system that will resolve many of the region’s power generation challenges.

According to authorities, construction tenders worth between R1m and R1bn will be advertised shortly. 20 construction contracts, including those for roads, bridges, bulk power lines, telecommunications, resettlement of about five villages, the dam and 38km of transfer tunnel, are included in the scope of the project. The Lesotho government is responsible for funding the hydropower component, while South Africa is responsible for the water transfer component.

These projects form part of Phase II of the project, envisaged to be completed in 2025. Phase one, which was hampered by allegations of corruption, informed an anti-corruption policy and robust procurement programme for this latest phase. Multiple layers of approval will aim to root out potential corruption.

LHWP Phase 2 divisional manager Tente Tente says that there are equal opportunities for Lesotho and South African nationals in implementing Phase 2. “We encourage small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) tendering for this next phase to partner with bigger companies or form joint ventures, so that skills and technology transfer can take place,” he adds.

Construction is set to begin next year, with the finalisation date having been set in 2019. The project has two major components: The water transfer and the hydropower elements. “Since the official launch of Phase 2 in 2013, the main focus has been on the procurement of consultants to design the advanced infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges, accommodation, power and telecommunications networks, as well as designing the major works – the Polihali dam and the Polhihali-Katse tunnel. The consultants will supervise the construction of the designed structures on the engineering side. We are also procuring a large number of consultants on the design and implementation of the social environmental programmes,” Tente said.

Imaga credit: Copyright: wootan51 / 123RF Stock Photo

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