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LHWP Phase 2 to reach completion in 2028

WATER AND MORE WATER Phase 2 goals include increasing the volume of water available for transfer to South Africa and stimulating local industry and economic growth

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESSING There has been significant progress on the construction of the access roads and the associated bridges

16th December 2022

By: Leah Shelene Asaram

Features Reporter

     

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About 17 990-million cubic metres of water have been transferred to South Africa since the commissioning of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase 1 in 2004.

This has earned Lesotho royalties amounting to R13 639-billion The water transfer component of LHWP Phase 2 is planned to be completed by the end of 2028 and the hydropower component completion will follow in 2029.

The LHWP addresses a double coincidence of needs, the first is South Africa’s need to augment its water supply, particularly in Gauteng, to provide for increased demand from industrial, agriculture and domestic users, and the second is Lesotho’s wish to earn external revenue and to save foreign exchange by developing hydropower locally which will reduce Lesotho’s dependence on imported energy.

LHWP public relations manager Masilo Phakoe says the LHWP was envisaged to be implemented in four phases, ultimately transferring 70 m3/sec of water to South Africa. To date, the parties have committed to two phases.

Phase 2 will add another 2 322-million cubic metresin storage capacity enabling an incremental increase in water transfer capacityfrom 780 to 1 270-million cubic metres a year.

Phakoe states that the Phase 2 goals include increasing the volume of water available for transfer to South Africa and stimulating local industry and economic growth, increasing the country’s tourism potential and enabling the development of micro and small industries.

Additionally, the Oxbow Hydropower Scheme, which is a hydropower infrastructure, is regarded as the third major engineering component of Phase 2 to take place after the water transfer.

He explains that because of the increased flow of water from the Polihali dam in Lesotho, the energy generated at the existing Muela Hydropower Station will also be increased by 40%. “The power generated at Oxbow will add to that.”

Based on the feasibility design, Oxbow Hydropower will generate about 80 MW at the Malefiloane power station, plus possibly about 10 MW at another power station in Nqoe, near the ‘Muela reservoir.

“R39-billion is the total cost of Phase 2 – this amount will increase if there are significant delays,” says Phakoe.

Moreover, Phakoe says the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority is mandated by the 1986 Treaty and the Phase 2 Agreement to ensure that the risks associated with involuntary resettlement are addressed and that the livelihoods of affected people are restored or improved.

Phakoe states that with the Livelihoods Restoration programme, construction of the first nine replacement houses for people affected by the roads and bulk power infrastructure developments from six villages are underway.

“These houses are expected to be handed over to the affected families by early 2023.”

Moreover, there has been significant progress on the construction of the access roads and the associated bridges, the bulk power and telecommunications infrastructure, the project’s resettlement action planning, unskilled labour recruitment through the Project Labour Desk and the rollout of public health programmes in the project area.

Livelihoods awareness programmes are being held across the LHWP Phase 2 areas to help communities make informed decisions. Such programmes include ecotourism as a livelihood option and financial education programmes.

A Social Development Master Plan (SDMP) is in preparation. It involves intensive consultation with local communities to identify needs and priority projects for implementation, notes Phakoe. Projects within the SDMP include water and sanitation, rural electrification, public health, agriculture, tourism, social protection, and educational enhancement such as skills and enterprise training and development, he concludes.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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