SA stalls mega wa­ter pro­ject

...ac­cused of stalling Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Pro­ject

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

South Africa’s Wa­ter Affairs and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter, Nomvula Mokonyane, has been ac­cused of de­rail­ing Phase II of the Le­sotho high­lands Wa­ter Pro­ject (LHWP) by de­lay­ing to ap­prove com­pa­nies se­lected by Le­sotho to work on the mul­ti­mil­lion-mal­oti pro­ject.

Ac­cord­ing to sources within the Le­sotho high­lands Wa­ter Com­mis­sion (LHWC), which over­sees the pro­ject, five com­pa­nies were ap­proved by the com­mis­sion in July this year to start work­ing on the pro­ject but Ms Mokonyane had still not given the go-ahead.

Al­though the pro­ject — which com­prises the con­struc­tion of Poli­hali Dam in Mokhot­long and a net­work of tun­nels trans­mit­ting the wa­ter to South Africa as well as elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion — is jointly owned by the two coun­tries, South Africa calls the shots be­cause it is fund­ing the con­struc­tion of the dam.

how­ever, ac­cord­ing to LHWP sources, the min­is­ter’s de­lay to ap­prove the se­lected com­pa­nies is adding to the cost of the pro­ject.

Wa­ter Affairs Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS) Kho­moat­sana tau yes­ter­day con­firmed to the Le­sotho Times that there were de­lays on the part of South Africa re­gard­ing the pro­ject.

Mr tau said: “We are aware and wor­ried about the de­lay by the South African min­is­ter (Mokonyane) to ap­prove con­tracts for­warded to her some months ago af­ter we ap­proved them on our side. this ob­vi­ously has neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions in terms of the fi­nan­cial costs of the en­tire pro­ject. I have since made at­tempts to meet with the South African del­e­ga­tion to dis­cuss this is­sue, but so far, I haven’t been suc­cess­ful.”

the Le­sotho Times made re­peated ef­forts to get a com­ment from Min­is­ter Mokonyane’s of­fice this week to no avail.

the LHWP is be­ing im­ple­mented by the Le­sotho high­lands De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (LHDA) and South Africa’s trans-cale­don tun­nel Au­thor­ity (tcta), while the LHWC over­sees the pro­ject.

Ac­cord­ing to LHDA spokesper­son, Masilo Phakoe, Phase II be­gan ear­lier this year with con­struc­tion of “ad­vance in­fra­struc­ture” that in­clude the de­sign and su­per­vi­sion of ac­cess roads, geotech­ni­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and de­mar­ca­tion of the reser­voir.

“Phase II’S im­ple­men­ta­tion was sched­uled to com­mence with the con­struc­tion of ad­vance in­fra­struc­ture in 2015 and the con­struc­tion of the dam and tun­nels in 2017. De­liv­ery of wa­ter and hy­dro­elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion by Phase II is ex­pected in 2022,” he said.

how­ever, a highly placed source in the LHWC told the Le­sotho Times that be­cause of South Africa’s de­lay to ap­prove con­tracts, “it is ob­vi­ous that this pro­ject is not go­ing to be com­pleted on time and its costs are go­ing to bal­loon.

“Ad­min­is­tra­tively, the pro­ject costs M15 mil­lion per month, and this is the money that has been wasted for the past four months that we have spent do­ing noth­ing be­cause our work has been stalled since the con­tracts have been await­ing ap­proval by the South African govern­ment,” the source said.

SA Wa­ter Affairs and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane

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