LHDA to invite tenders for Polihali

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Staff Reporter

THE Lesotho Highlands Water Authority will soon extend invitations to engineering and construction companies to express interest in tendering for the construction of the 165m high Polihali Dam wall and the 38km water transfer tunnel.

This was said by the (LHDA) chief executive officer Refiloe Tlali in a recent statement to the media.

The procurement for both contractors and consultants are expected to pave way for the construction of some of the advance infrastructure that is scheduled to commence this year and 2019. Among the infrastructure are roads, power and telecommunication network and housing.

Ms Tlali said the contractors will be asked to participate in a prequalification process where South African and Basotho owned companies are encouraged to apply.

Ms Tlali said companies will be assessed for capability and depth of resources to undertake the project among other things.

“The objective of the pre-qualification is to ensure that the process yields a shortlist of suitably qualified firms or consortia for the construction of these main works,” Ms Tlali said.

“The interested firms/consortia will be assessed for among other factors, their capability and depth of resources to undertake the construction of the dam and tunnel contracts.

“The LHDA’s procurement policy is designed to foster competitiveness, transparency, cost effectiveness, quality and meaningful and broad participation of South African and Lesotho suppliers of goods and services, including consultants and contractors.”

She said the LHDA’s procurement policy precludes the award of both the dam and tunnel contracts to the same firms or consortia. She said the prequalification will be advertised in the Lesotho and South African press and on the LHDA website.

“These are the works that have to be in place before the start of the construction of the main works namely the Polihali Dam and the Tunnel. It is expected that the procurement of the contractors for the Polihali Dam, Polihali tunnel and major bridges will commence in 2019 with the construction scheduled to start in 2020.”

Ms Tlali also said the feasibility studies for the hydro-power component of the project are at an advanced stage.

“The preferred hydropower option will be agreed upon in 2019 and the procurement process for the hydropower engineer starting in 2021.”

The project is expected to start transferring water to South Africa in 2025 upon which the hydro-power generation is set to commence.

The Lesotho Electricity Company purchases 72 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the LHDA’s ‘Muela Hydro-Power Station in the Leribe district.

This however, falls far short of the country’s requirements of approximately 156 MW and the balance is met through imports from Eskom South Africa and Electricidade de Mocambique.

Ms Tlali said they are currently in the registration phase for assets that will be affected and would need to be compensated. Others households and assets will be resettled to make way for the project.

She said they would also soon roll out a demonstration project on the livelihoods restoration programme for the affected households.

While LHDA public relations manager Masilo Phakoe could not be drawn into committing dates, he said they would soon announce dates for employment of key personnel for the roll-out in the media.

The construction of the Polihali Dam is the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP Phase II).

The Polihali Dam is due to be constructed in terms of the bi-national phase two of the LHWP.

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 a 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 create 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 on 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.

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