MASERU — The Maqalika raw water pump station has failed to continuously pump water from the Mohokare River into the dangerously low Maqalika Dam.
Maqalika Dam is the source of water for the capital Maseru but as from last month, levels were low prompting the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority to release raw water from the Muela Dam in Butha Buthe, to be pumped into Maqalika.
The release, which started on Tuesday September 24, only lasted until the following day. Water from Muela, according to the press release issued by the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) last month, would be released until this coming Saturday.
Currently, Maseru is not benefitting from the Muela water, which is now flowing into neighbouring South Africa. Since last month, the water company has been battling with the new but unreliable US$6 828 228.46 (about M60 million) pump station financed by the World Bank and commissioned in 2011.
The costly pump station has never worked apart from the two days it pumped late last month.
The pump station was constructed to operate in cases of emergency such as drought and when Mohokare water is dirty.
In an interview with the water company’s chief executive officer on Wednesday last week (October 9), Mathealira Lerotholi said the pump station was shut down to allow maintenance and inspection work by the South Africa-based supplier of the pumps and locally based UNIK Engineering –which constructed the station.
“We stopped pumping because there is a team installing one pump that was recently fixed in South Africa and also to conduct routine inspection of the pumps, which was scheduled for this month.
“They are also going to do some checks on the Maseru Water Treatment Works,” he said.
Lerotholi could not explain why pumping stopped two days before the scheduled inspection of the pumps, considering the desperation to pump as much water as possible. “I don’t know why they stopped pumping early because I was not available.
“I understand the importance to increase water levels in the Maqalika Dam and appreciate that, the more we pump the more we extend the period we can save the city. We are expecting pumping into Maqalika to start tomorrow (October 10).”
However, there was still no water being pumped into Maqalika by yesterday as Maseru residents pin their hopes on rain.