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Preparatory work under way on commercial centre that will serve LHWP Phase II project area

ENVIRO EMPHASIS The commercial centre design prioritises sustainability

ON TRACK The Polihali transfer tunnel will transfer water by gravity from the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir

24th February 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The preparatory stages of construction of the Polihali commercial centre at Masakong are under way after the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) awarded the M11.3-million contract to Unik Construction Engineering in mid-January.

Construction of the centre, which is expected to enhance day-to-day access to goods and services in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II project area, is expected to be completed by December this year, along with the bulk of the Phase II advance infrastructure.

It is expected to provide valuable services to people working on the Phase II site and attract people from neighbouring villages within the Malingoaneng area, says LHDA Phase II divisional manager Ntsoli Maiketso.

The commercial centre, the only one of its kind in the area, includes space for a supermarket, a clinic, police post and speciality retail stores, as well as the option to extend the centre to include a filling station at a later stage.

Like the other Phase II project housing buildings under construction, the commercial centre design prioritises sustainability.

Architectural considerations include large windows to allow natural light into the building, with a north-facing orientation minimising excessive heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer reducing heating and cooling requirements.

“The commercial centre construction contract completes procurement on the quartet of Phase II advance infrastructure project housing construction tenders, purposely packaged to enhance the participation of small- and medium-sized contractors in Phase II,” Maiketso says.

Work on the other three construction contracts for the Polihali Village, upgrades to the Katse Lodge and Katse Village and the Polihali operations centre is progressing well.

During a site visit in early February, Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) showcased, to about 30 funders, the progress achieved in the implementation of LHWP Phase II since the start of construction in 2018.

Some of the project achievements highlighted included the construction of the main access road, which is about 60% complete and the construction of the Polihali Village for use by the main works construction contractors, which is 30% complete.

Polihali Infrastructure Consultants, which comprises South Africa-based Mott MacDonald PDNA and Khatleli Tomane Moteane Architects of Lesotho, was awarded the contract for the planning, design and construction supervision of the project housing and associated infrastructure in 2015.

The main water transfer works, the Polihali dam and Polihali transfer tunnel, were awarded at the end of 2022, signalling the start of the “final lap” of the water transfer infrastructure construction.

The l

etter of acceptance for the transfer tunnel construction contract was signed on November 5, while the letter of acceptance for the dam construction contract was signed on October 31.

The SUN joint venture (JV), comprising China’s Sinohydro Bureau 8 and Sinohydro Bureau 14, as well as South African firm Unik Civil Engineering and Lesotho firm Nthane Brothers, secured the M7.68-billion Polihali dam contract.

The Matla a Metsi JV, which comprises South Africa’s GIBB and MPAMOT Africa, as well as France-headquartered Tractebel Engineering SA/Coyne et Bellier and Lesotho-based LYMA Consulting Engineers, will supervise the construction.

The Polihali dam, a concrete-faced rockfill dam, similar to the Mohale dam, which was constructed in Phase I of the LHWP, will create a reservoir on the Senqu and Khubelu rivers with a surface area of 5 053 ha. The infrastructure also includes a spillway, a compensation outlet structure and a mini-hydropower station.

The M9.2-billion Polihali transfer tunnel will be constructed by the Kopana Ke Matla JV, which comprises Chinese firms Yellow River Company and Sinohydro Bureau 3 and Unik Civil Engineering.

Construction will be supervised by the Metsi a Senqu-Khubelu Consultants JV, which comprises Lesotho-based FM Associates and South African firms Zutari South Africa, Hatch Africa, Knight Piésold and SMEC South Africa.

The Polihali transfer tunnel will transfer water by gravity from the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir, before being transferred through the delivery tunnel to the Muela hydropower station constructed in Phase I, and then on to the Ash River outfall outside Clarens, in the Free State, on its way to Gauteng.

Meanwhile, procurement for the design and construction supervision of the Oxbow Hydropower Scheme and its related social and environmental elements, also critical to Phase II, is currently under way, with March 2023 as the deadline for the submission of bids for engineering, environmental and social consultants.

The scope of the hydropower engineering includes a 100-m-high dam; two tunnels; a high-pressure steel penstock (pipeline); an 80 MW power station; a 132 kV transmission line; all associated infrastructure such as roads and accommodation; bulk power; and telecommunications infrastructure and envirosocial components.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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