A LOCAL company, LYMA Consulting Engineers has made history after being part of a consortium that was awarded a lucrative M445 million contract for the design and construction supervision of the Polihali Dam.
The tender was awarded in terms of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).
Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), Chief Executive Officer Refiloe Tlali revealed on Tuesday that LYMA had been given the contract which is the highest award to date in the bi-national project.
The LHWP is a multi-phased project to provide water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and to generate hydro-electricity for Lesotho. It was established by the 1986 Treaty signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.
The project entails harnessing the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Phase I of the LHWP, consisting of the Katse and Mohale dams, the ‘Muela hydropower station and associated tunnels was completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004. Phase II of the LHWP is currently in progress. It consists of two separate but related components: water transfer and hydropower generation.
The bilateral project which is estimated to cost at least M23 billion, is expected to provide about 3 000 jobs at the peak of its operations.
The water transfer component of Phase II comprises an approximately 165m high concrete faced rock fill Dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers and an approximately 38km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir. Other Phase II activities include advance infrastructure (roads, accommodation, power lines and telecommunication, etc.) and the implementation of environmental and social mitigating measures.
The hydropower component of Phase II, which is currently under further feasibility studies, may include a pumped storage scheme, conventional hydropower such as the expansion of the ‘Muela infrastructure or new greenfield sites.
Its exact form will be determined on completion of the further feasibility studies. Phase II is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2024.
The LHDA this week addressed a press conference in Maseru where they announced that a consortium comprising of LYMA and South African and French engineers had been awarded the multi-million maloti tender.
The Matla a Metsi consortium is a joint venture which includes LYMA, GIBB (Pty) Ltd and Mott MacDonald Africa (Pty) Ltd (both from South Africa) and Tractebel Engineering SA/ Coyne et Bellier from France.
LYMA reportedly holds 18 percent of the shares in the consortium.
“This M445 million maloti contract has been awarded to a consortium of South African, Lesotho and France based consultancy called Matla a Metsi Joint Venture,” Ms Tlali said on Tuesday, adding, “This is by far the highest paid contract awarded by the LHDA”.
Ms Tlali further stated that the joint venture was expected to review geotechnical and other project information, engineering the design of the Polihali Dam and appurtenant structures, procurement of construction contracts, supervising the construction on behalf of the client, skill development and technology transfer to Lesotho and South African nationals, and the training of the LHDA staff for the purposes of operating and maintaining the dam.
She added the contract was expected to be completed in the next 18 months.
“Major works have commenced and the LHDA is looking forward to ensuring that the design of the dam is completed.
“The expectation is that the design of the dam and its appurtenant works will take 18 months to complete. Thereafter, the LHDA will venture into the actual tendering for the job.
“If all goes according to plan, the construction of the Polihali Dam will commence either in December 2019 or January 2020.”
She said the dam impoundment process was expected to take place during the rainy season in 2023 so that water transfer to South Africa would commence at the end of 2025.
Ms Tlali also said the hydropower component of the project was currently at feasibility study stage which would be completed early next year.
“The expectation is that in 2025, when the LHDA starts transferring water to South Africa, we will also be in a position to launch the hydropower generation in line with Lesotho’s power needs.”
To date the project has awarded 17 consultancy contract awards with consultants currently at different stages of designing several works to be implemented by contractors.
The project also has an approved the Phase II Compensation Policy, Procurement Policies and Procedures for Phase II.
The project is also on the verge of completing the Labour Recruitment Policy.