The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has awarded Zutari Lesotho the professional services contract for the development of the master plan for feeder roads and bridges related to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II.
Work on the contract is valued at about M13-million and is slated to start this month.
In undertaking this assignment, Zutari will be working with other Lesotho-based firms, as well as black-owned South African firms.
Development of the master feeder plan for the roads and bridges is part of the process to determine the infrastructure required to support post-construction public mobility around and across the Polihali reservoir to be built under Phase II.
The feeder roads are intended to improve connectivity and access of villages that will be affected by the construction of the Polihali dam and reservoir inundation.
The consultant responsible for developing the master plan is expected to start work on the contract with an extensive assessment of the existing network of roads, methods of transportation and size of population in the area to be served by the proposed feeder road network and their requirements for access around and across the reservoir.
In terms of stakeholder engagement, the consultant will engage with affected communities, local community leaders, district authorities and the Polihali reservoir resettlement consultant and other interested and affected parties to identify the access requirement of the communities, both during construction and after the reservoir inundation.
Another key activity under the contract is to identify viable options for all feeder roads and bridges that are required to connect villages to each other and to the existing national road network.
Viable options will be prioritised based on the findings of the environmental- and social-impact assessment studies to be completed as part of the feeder roads master plan development process, as will the lessons learned from Phase I regarding the mobility of communities around the reservoir.
The LHDA is working with specialist consultants to mitigate the impact of Phase II on local communities, and, as far as possible, limit the need to relocate households.
However, the Polihali reservoir, with an estimated surface area of 5 000 ha, will result in the physical displacement of about 270 households from about ten villages.
A large number of households from other villages in the project area will not be affected by relocation, but the reservoir inundation will lead to a loss of access or connection to markets and essential services, which necessitates the study determining potential impacts and developing a master plan for the feeder roads and bridges that will mitigate the impacts.