The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has awarded the contract for designing and supervising the construction of the Polihali water transfer tunnel – the largest of all the Phase II engineering design contracts – to the Metsi a Senqu-Khubelu Consultants (MSKC) joint venture.  Work on the approximately M/R900 million design and construction supervision contract commenced in December 2017.

 “The appointment is a significant milestone in the implementation of Phase II,” commented Mr Samonyane Ntsekele MP, Lesotho’s Minister of Water. “The MSKC joint venture combines local, regional and international tunnel experts, well qualified to deliver on the brief within the timeframe and to the highest standards.”

MSKC comprises Lesotho-based FM Associates (Pty) Ltd, and South African firms Aurecon South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Hatch Africa (Pry) Ltd, Knight Piesold (Pty) Ltd and SMEC South Africa (Pty) Ltd. Sub- consultants include White Life Consultants (Pty) Ltd, Lesotho; S5 Construction Consultants, Lesotho; and ILISO Consulting (Pty) Ltd, South Africa.

 The consultant’s scope of services includes reviewing the existing project information and preparing the preliminary design of the transfer tunnel; preparing the tender design for the construction of the tunnel, tender drawings and tender documents; supporting the LHDA through the contractor tender and contract award process, preparing construction design and drawings, and providing contract management services during the construction of the tunnel.

 Training LHDA staff for the purposes of operating and maintaining the tunnel is part of the skills and technology transfer element of the project. The project also makes provision for the training of Young Professionals.

 The envisaged transfer tunnel will be approximately 38km long with a nominal bore of five metres. It will transfer water by gravity from Phase II’s Polihali

reservoir in the Mokhotlong district into the Katse reservoir for eventual delivery to South Africa via the existing transfer scheme. Construction of the tunnel is expected to commence in 2020 and to be completed by the end of 2025. Both tunnel boring and drill and blast methods will be used to excavate the tunnel.

 Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project builds on the successful completion of Phase I in 2003. It delivers water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and utilises the water delivery system to generate hydro-electricity for Lesotho. Phase II will ensure a reliable water supply to South Africa by 2025, and progressively increase the current supply rate of 780 million cubic metres per annum to more than 1 270 million cubic metres per annum. At the same time, it will increase the quantity of electricity generated in Lesotho and is a further step in the process of securing an independent electricity source to meet Lesotho’s domestic requirements.