Minister Senzo Mchunu on progress made in Phase II of Lesotho Highlands Water Project

Minister Senzo Mchunu on progress made in Phase II of Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Minister Senzo Mchunu on progress made in Phase II of Lesotho Highlands Water Project

Africa-Press – Lesotho. Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu together with Minister of Natural Resources in the Kingdom of Lesotho (KoL), Mohlomi Moleko engaged in an extremely important bilateral discussions, yesterday 09 December 2022 at Maseru Convention Centre, in Lesotho.

The conversation was around Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The Ministerial engagement was meant to deliberate on the implementation of the phase 2 project and matters of mutual benefit between the two countries.

This is a bi-national infrastructure project between Lesotho and South Africa, and it involves the construction of a network tunnels and dams to transfer water from Orange–Senqu River in the Lesotho highlands to South Africa and to utilise the water delivery system to hydro-electric power in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The water transfer component of Phase 2 comprises an approximately 165m high Concrete Faced Rockfill Dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu-Orange Rivers and an approximately 38km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.

The completion of Phase 2 of LHWP which anticipated to be in 2028, will augment the transfer of water from Kingdom of Lesotho to the Republic of South Africa with extra 490 million m3/year from the current 780 million m3/year to make it 1260 million m3/year through the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS).

The IVRS is biggest system in the country, which is comprised of 14 dams with catchments in four provinces, namely Free State, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and North West.

Minister Mchunu enthusiastically highlighted that although the project encountered some challenges previously which led missing of the initial deadline of 2020, there are some encouraging signs.

“Considerable progress has been made in the project and we will have a good story to share when we return to South Africa.

Minister Mchunu cited Lesotho’s historical contribution in liberating South Africa when things were very gloomy and emphasise the importance of being good neighbours through having faith with one another and treating each other with fairness and justice.

“We can only look forward to this project growing but more importantly, we would like to strengthen our relations. Everyone involves in this enormous project will have a good story to tell when they get to heaven,” Minister Mchunu quipped.

Phase 1 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project consisted of the construction of Katse and Mohale Dams, a 32-kilometre transfer tunnel between Mohale and Katse Dams, construction of the Matsoku Diversion Weir, a 5.7-kilometre tunnel from the Matsoku Diversion Weir to the Katse Dam.

The system is interconnected in such a way that water may be transferred in either direction for storage in Mohale or ultimate transfer to South Africa through the Katse reservoir.

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