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LHDA injects M131m towards village upgrade

Mohloai Mpesi

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has injected a lucrative M131million towards renovation of the Katse village. 

According to a media statement released by the Authority earlier this week, the Katse village upgrade construction tender awarded to a Lesotho-based construction company, Unik Construction Engineering commenced last month and is projected to end in April 2023.

The LHDA Phase II Divisional Manager Ntsoli Maiketso stated that the face-lift of the village is expected to increase tourism.

“The extensions and upgrades will improve the experience of tourists who visit Katse and will ensure accommodation for the increasing number of visitors expected to be drawn to the Polihali dam developments and for the increasing numbers of people actively involved in Phase II construction,” he said.

The award of the tender comes a month after the completion of the civil works contract that saw the construction of platforms and bulk utilities at the proposed Polihali village site and the temporary camps as well as utilities upgrades at the Katse village. 

“The Katse village upgrades contract valued at an estimated M131 million, is the first of the four housing construction contracts to be awarded,” the release read.

It continued that the remaining three housing construction contracts for the construction of the Polihali village, the Polihali commercial centre and the Polihali operations centre, are under procurement.

“These are expected to facilitate local participation especially for small and medium sized contractors in keeping with the tenets of Article 10 of the Phase II Agreement,” the statement continued.

“The Katse village upgrades contract will increase capacity at the Katse Lodge and diversify the services offered at the facility. It includes the construction of an additional accommodation block, conference rooms, a fitness centre, a caravan park and upgrades to the backpackers’ facility.

“Single quarters for accommodation and parking areas will also be constructed at the Katse village under this contract, to accommodate the Polihali Transfer Tunnel construction staff and the LHDA operations and maintenance staff, post construction,” the statement read.

The Katse Dam with the wall height of 185m is Africa’s second largest double-curvature concrete arch dam and the centre piece of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The dam and the nearby botanical gardens have been major tourist attractions since the early 2000s. The Phase II infrastructure is expected to attract more tourists to the area.

Polihali Infrastructure Consultants comprising the South African-based Mott MacDonald PDNA (Pty) Ltd and Khatleli Tomane Moteane Architects (Pty) Ltd of Lesotho was awarded the contract for the planning, design and construction supervision of the Project housing and associated infrastructure in 2015.

As per the release, the second Phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project builds on the successful completion of Phase I in 2003 which delivers water to the Gauteng region of the Republic of South Africa and utilises the water delivery system to generate hydroelectricity for Lesotho. Phase II is said to surge the current water supply rate of 780 million cubic metres per annum to more than 1 270 million cubic metres per annum.

The increased water flow will simultaneously upsurge the energy generated by the ‘Muela hydropower plant, a further step in the process of securing an independent power supply to meet Lesotho’s domestic needs.

“Feasibility studies confirmed the conventional hydropower as the preferred option for Phase II while three potential sites were identified; two on the Senqu River and a third site at Oxbow on the Malibamatšo River. The plan is to commission the selected option at the same time as the Water Transfer component, which is 2027,” the release read.

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is multi-phased, multi-billion Maloti/Rand project between the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa. It comprises water transfer and hydropower generation components with associated ancillary developments.  The water transfer component entails the construction of dams and tunnels in Lesotho, enhancing the use of water from the Senqu (Orange) River and its tributaries by storing, regulating, diverting and controlling the flow to effect the delivery of specified quantities of water to South Africa, and utilising the delivery system to generate hydro-electric power in Lesotho.

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