MCA on track to meet targets

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MASERU — The Millennium Challenge Account-Lesotho is on course to achieve its five-year development goals, according to Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) senior advisor Cassandra Butts.
Butts arrived in Lesotho last Thursday on a three-day visit to assess and monitor progress in the implementation of the MCC programmes around the country.
The MCC is an independent United States agency that offers assistance to some of the least developed countries to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. The MCA-Lesotho focuses on three major areas — health sector, water sector and private sector development.
“What we saw on the ground is that we are making great progress and we have a strong partnership with the MCA-Lesotho team,” Butts told a press conference in Maseru last Friday.
She said he was confident that Lesotho will achieve its development goals within the specified five-year term.
“I am impressed with the high level of empowerment of women in Lesotho. Women are (being) given opportunities to empower themselves,” she said.
Finance Minister Timothy Thahane told the same press conference that the process to develop the private sector had already begun starting with reforms in the judiciary sector.
“The judiciary reform is necessary as there is need to set up a commercial court that will focus on commercial cases and cater for the legal needs of the business sector,” Thahane said.
He said the empowerment of women also held the key to increasing Lesotho’s economic potential.
MCA-Lesotho chief executive officer, Sophia Mohapi, said they were currently engaged in the detailed design of the Metolong Dam, the building of clinics as well as the water conveyancing project.
“We have so far spent about US$25 million of the total compact, and we will start to advertise for the building of the dam and the conveyance system (this month), so we are on schedule,” Mohapi said in an interview.
She said they had already engaged consultants to supervise and oversee the construction of the water conveyance system.
“The advertisements for the construction will run for three months after which the evaluation process will commence to identify suitable and qualified contractors,” she said.
Mohapi said the construction of the dam and the conveyance system was expected to begin next year.
MCA-Lesotho head of infrastructure Keketso Chalatse they were going to recruit contractors who had the capacity to undertake such massive projects.
“Advertising is going to be international, so there is more emphasis on quality and capacity to carry such big projects.
“Currently we do not have companies locally that can carry out large-scale projects like the Metolong project,” Chalatse said.
He said it was a requirement under the MCA that advertising for construction projects should be international.
“We are however encouraging local contractors to affiliate themselves with large construction companies and work together so that they can benefit from the projects,” he said.
Chalatse said the massive construction “of the dam, water treatment and the conveyance systems will take place at the same time with about 250 water conveyance system pipes being constructed”.
Metolong chief executive officer Malcolm Murray said a total of US$86 million had been allocated to the Metolong Authority to oversee the construction of the Metolong Dam, the water treatment works and the water conveyance systems.
Murray said the dam is expected to provide clean drinking water to urban areas such as Roma, Mazenod, Teyateyaneng, Morija and Maseru as well as the surrounding industrial areas.
“Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of next year and is due to be completed in the middle of 2012.
“The water will be collected in the rain season starting from 2012 to 2013 whereafter the water will flow to the specified areas and the whole process will be complete by 2013,” Murray said.

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