Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Picture: REUTERS
Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Picture: REUTERS

Short-listed consultants bidding for the contract to design and supervise construction of the Polihali Tunnel, part of Phase II of the R23bn Lesotho Highlands Water Project, have until January to submit proposals, the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority said on Tuesday.

The deadline for short-listed consultants submitting proposals for the design and construction supervision of the Polihali Dam closed in December. The dam and tunnel are the main works of Phase II. Phase I was completed in 2003.

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which is four years behind schedule, will deliver water to Gauteng via the dam and tunnel to alleviate shortages and generate 1,200MW of hydropower from the Kobong pumped storage scheme.

There will be contracts worth billions of rand for South African, Lesotho and international engineering firms.

The development authority recently appointed the EDF Hydro Engineering Centre, with Gibb, Multiconsult UK and Lesotho-based LYMA to conduct additional feasibility studies into the hydropower component.

The additional studies, which are being funded by the World Bank, will look at markets, integration, geotechnical aspects, and legal and commercial arrangements. They will also explore options to increase Lesotho’s electricity-generation capacity. The studies began in October and are expected to take about 15 months.

The authority said in its December update that 12 contracts had been awarded to consultants on advanced infrastructure components of the water transfer component, including the perimeter of the Polihali Reservoir, roads, geotechnical studies, housing, telecommunications and resettlements.

People living in the area of the planned Polihali Dam and reservoir in the Mokhotlong district would have to be moved because the storage dams would flood about 5,000ha of the valleys and catchments of the Senqu and Khubelu rivers.

The development authority would also have to acquire land for infrastructure. It said the main focus in the past two years had been the procurement of consultants, which would continue into 2017.

It has been reported that the first delivery of water to Gauteng from Polihali Dam is scheduled for 2024.

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