THE Metolong Authority says it has spent millions of maloti to compensate 2539 out of the 2786 families that were affected by the construction of the Metolong Dam on the outskirts of Maseru.
This was revealed by the Metolong Authority chief executive officer, Lebekoane Ntoi, during a workshop in Maseru which is expected to end today with the authority officially handing over the management of the Metolong Dam Water Supply Project (MDWSP) to the Ministry of Water.
“The resettlement and compensation’s overall objective was to ensure that people who were negatively impacted by the MDWSP through tangible losses are compensated in a participatory and timely manner in line with the laws of Lesotho and international best practices,” Mr Ntoi said.
“Fortunately, only six families had to be relocated and among them only one had to be moved to another village which is from Ha Seeiso to Ha Matala. Other movements remained in the same villages they had initially occupied. We built three bedroomed houses of the same value for all the six families but which were above the standard of the houses they had previously owned.
“However, 247 families are yet to be compensated because we faced challenges with them. Part of the reasons were unresolved disputes over land, grievances against the compensation policy and rates as well as other land owners’ whereabouts which were unknown.
“The other challenge is that for some villagers, only a small portion of their land was affected and they have said they do not want the compensation money as it is too little.”
Mr Ntoi also said some of the community developments by the Metolong Authority include the construction of the Liphiring bridge, Sefikeng bridge, the Ha Motṧoeneng-Metolong Road, rural electrification and tapped water supply in the villages around Metolong.
The resettlement and compensation officer, Mosiuoa Mohlomi, said that they gathered all the information about the affected property and damages to fully compensate concerned parties.
“Other villagers were partially affected while others had their property completely damaged. The compensation process included asset identification, survey, signing compensation agreement forms and verification of collected data among others.
“We compensated communal properties where Ratau villagers were paid M8 944 225, 49 while those in the Motanasela area were paid M1 212 981, 48. The outstanding amount is around M1 million and this was delayed because of the disputes over village boundaries in Ratau.
“We however, engaged a legal service office to expedite dispute resolution, involved local community leaders in identifying and locating the unknown villagers and assisting affected parties in acquiring needed documentation. Throughout the process we discovered that people preferred to be compensated with money over land,” he said.
The dam was constructed by a Chinese company Hydropower Engineering and construction company Sinohydro under the supervision of the Metolong Authority starting in October 2011.
The Metolong programme forms the first phase of the Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme which aims to ultimately bring water to all the communities living within the Lowlands regions.
After the completion of the first phase of the dam, the authority began supplying water to Mazenod, Roma and Morija in September 2014. The Teyateyaneng, Maseru High South reservoir in Lithabaneng and the Lesotho Sun reservoir started receiving water in 2015.
The authority handed over the plant to the Water and Sanitation Company (WASCO) in August 2016 and the dam only realised its full capacity in April this year when it carried 63 million cubic litres of water.