Authority seeks bidders for LHWP Phase 2 work packages

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has issued three tenders for construction upgrading, geotechnical investigation works and resettlement planning services related to Phase 2 of the multibillion-rand Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

The LHWP is a binational initiative between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa and is the result of a treaty signed between the two governments in 1986 to establish an inter-basin water transfer scheme, which originally aimed for the delivery of 70 m3/s of water to South Africa.
Phase 1 of the flagship project, completed in 2002, saw the construction of the Katse and Mohale dams, in Lesotho, as well as the development of a transfer tunnel between the Mohale dam and the Katse reservoir.
The second phase of the LHWP would comprise a water transfer component and a hydroelectricity component.

The recently issued tenders focused on work required under the water transfer component, which entailed the construction of a concrete-faced rockfill dam at Polihali, downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Orange rivers, as well as the development of a gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.

Phase 2 activities would also include the establishment of advanced infrastructure, such as roads, camps, power lines and a telecommunications system, as well as the implementation of environmental, public health and social mitigation measures.

The first of three contracts on offer under this phase, the LHDA this week invited suitably qualified contractors to submit tenders for geotechnical investigation works for the Polihali dam and the Polihali–Katse transfer tunnel.

The proposed geotechnical investigations were to be undertaken in two stages; the first of which would involve core drilling, seismic refraction survey, sand sampling and proving of quarry sites for material suitable for use as concrete aggregates at the Polihali dam site and proposed Polihali–Katse transfer tunnel.

Stage 2 investigations and testing would be undertaken following completion of the Stage 1 investigations and would be informed by the requirements of the dam and tunnel design engineers.

The authority, meanwhile, also called for bidders to submit tenders for professional services for resettlement planning and implementation related to the Polihali North-East access road (PNEAR) and site establishment areas.

The PNEAR would be the initial access road to the Polihali dam site, nearby construction areas and the selected route for the main Polihali Western Access Road (PWAR).

It would extend for about 17 km along an existing gravel road, which would be upgraded to gravel standard with a 30-m servitude.

The site establishment areas included the tunnel inlet works area, the dam works area and areas required for quarries, workshops, offices and accommodation facilities.

“The overall objective of this assignment is to prepare and implement a resettlement programme to address the involuntary resettlement impacts associated with these project components.

“An estimated 111 households may have to be relocated from the site establishment areas, with some residential properties also expected to be affected by the PNEAR upgrading works. In addition, agricultural fields, trees and graves will be affected,” the LHDA outlined in the tender documents.

The scope of services entailed detailed resettlement planning culminating in the submission of resettlement action plans, followed by implementation and management of approved resettlement activities.

The LHDA also invited proposals for professional services for the design and construction supervision related to the upgrade of Katse Lodge, in Lesotho.

The group said it expected the need for accommodation at Katse Lodge to increase owing to the proposed construction activities associated with the Polihali–Katse transfer tunnel and the PWAR that would run from the Matsoku Valley to the Polihali dam site.

“The purpose of these works is to modernise the lodge and increase its capacity to cater for the expected increased volumes of visitors,” it stated.

The upgrading works entailed the refurbishment and remodelling of the existing lodge facilities to transform the lodge into a modern facility capable of attaining a three-star hotel rating in accordance with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

The capacity of the dining, lounge and other facilities would be increased through the addition of a first floor above that section of the existing lodge.

Sealed bids for each of the three tenders must be submitted on or before April 6 and a mandatory prebid meeting and site visit would be held at Katse Dam Visitors’ Centre, in Lesotho, on February 18.

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