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LHDA resumes construction

Mohloai Mpesi

The Lesotho Highlands Developments Authority (LHDA) has announced its willpower to resume the Polihali diversion tunnel constructions after disruptions caused by heavy rains.  

In a press release issued by the company yesterday, the hefty rains which were experienced last month propelled the Authority to temporarily close shop.

Although there was no damage witnessed, the release states that the temporary bridge providing access across the Senqu River to construction site was eclipsed by high water levels.   

It further stated that the tunnels were filled to the brim while an effort to empty them has already commenced.

“Efforts to get the drill and blast operations on the Polihali diversion tunnels to continue are underway after the temporary interruption caused by the heavy rains and high Senqu River levels at the end of January,” the release reads.

“The heavy rains experienced across the country affected the diversion tunnels construction site. The temporary bridge which provides access across the Senqu River to construction site was overtopped and the embankments were damaged.

“There was flooding in the tunnels. The contractor is dewatering the two diversion tunnels. The bridge embankments have been reinstated and access restored. The full extent of damage will be known once the dewatering exercise is complete.

“No one sustained injuries as the site was evacuated to ensure the safety of all on duty at the same time.

The release continued that, “Overall, there was no significant flood damage as the other construction was still passable. These are the Polihali Western Access Road (PWAR) from Ha Seshote to Polihali and the Polihali North Eastern Access Road (PNEAR) which connects Polihali to Mapholaneng, and the North Access Roads (NAR) between Leribe and the Katse village. No flooding was reported along these routes and construction activity on the other construction sites continued without interruption.

“Procurement for the construction of the water transfer main work i.e. the Polihali Dam and Polihali Transfer Tunnel is expected to commence in the first half of 2021. Other major work tenders scheduled to go out to market in the next few weeks include those for the construction of major bridges.

“The water levels of the Senqu River continue to be closely monitored as do the Katse and Mohale reservoir levels. The Katse live reservoir levels stand at 71.86% and 41.01%, respectively, today. Water transfer continues as does the production of hydropower at ‘Muela.

“As the implementing authority responsible for the implementation and management of the LHWP on behalf of the governments of Lesotho and South Africa, the LHDA continues to monitor the situation closely,” the letter reads.         f

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