Show­down over Me­to­long

‘If we can’t have the wa­ter, then no one else should. We will dig up the pipes and shut down

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

HA MOT­LO­H­ELOA vil­lagers are threat­en­ing to “de­stroy” the Me­to­long Dam pro­ject un­less govern­ment al­lows them un­re­stricted ac­cess to the wa­ter “as a mat­ter of ur­gency”.

The dam, built in Thaba-bo­siu on the South Phuthi­at­sana River about 35 kilo­me­tres from Maseru, was com­pleted this year to aug­ment wa­ter sup­plies to Mazenod, Morija, Tey­ateya­neng, Roma and Maseru.

Con­struc­tion of the gi­ant pro­ject com­menced in 2008 through fund­ing from the gov­ern­ments of Le­sotho and South Africa, Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank, Saudi Fund for De­vel­op­ment, Kuwait Fund for Arab Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Arab Bank for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment in Africa, OPEC Fund for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment, Abu Dhabi Fund for De­vel­op­ment, the US Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion and the World Bank.

How­ever, res­i­dents of Ha Mot­lo­h­eloa vil­lage, through which the wa­ter-pipes pass, are not happy that govern­ment has al­legedly re­neged on its prom­ise to pro­vide them with wa­ter from the dam.

The vil­lagers have since started van­dal­is­ing the pipes and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture to ac­cess the wa­ter, and on Tues­day threat­ened “a com­plete shut­down” of the pro­ject un­less govern­ment makes Ha Mot­lo­h­eloa a ben­e­fi­ciary of the mul­ti­mil­lion-mal­oti pro­ject “as promised in 2013”.

The deal, the vil­lagers told the Le­sotho Times, was al­legedly reached at af­ter res­i­dents had de­nied work­ers lay­ing the pipes ac­cess to their fields un­less the govern­ment in­cluded them among the pro­ject’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Ac­cord­ing to the vil­lagers, un­der the ver­bal agree­ment, they were sup­posed to start ac­cess­ing the wa­ter in Au­gust this year but this date was moved to Oc­to­ber. They fur-

ther claim govern­ment post­poned the date again, this time to March 2016, which they said was un­ac­cept­able hence their de­ci­sion to van­dalise the in­fra­struc­ture and il­le­gally ac-

cess the wa­ter.

Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Com­pany (WASCO) and Me­to­long of­fi­cials have been fix­ing the dam­aged in­fra­struc­ture, but the vil­lagers

con­tinue to de­stroy it and ac­cess­ing the wa­ter. The first il­le­gal ac­cess point was next to

Con­tin­ued on Page 9

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