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M11 million Polihali commercial centre under construction

Business

Staff reporters

Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has announced that construction of Polihali Commercial centre is commencing following a M11, 3 million contract award to Unik Construction in January this year.

The centre to be located in Masakong, is expected to enhance day-to-day access to goods and services in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II project area.

LHWP is multi-billion Maloti bi-national project between the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa.

It comprises water transfer and hydropower generation and ancillary developments. The water transfer component entails the construction of dams and tunnels in Lesotho for the purpose of enhancing the use of water from the Senqu (Orange) River and its tributaries by storing, regulating, diverting and controlling the flow to effect the delivery of specified quantities of water to South Africa. At the same time, the delivery system generates hydro-electric power in Lesotho.

The Polihali commercial plan includes space for a supermarket, clinic, police post and specialty retail stores, as well as the option to extend the centre to include a filling station at a later stage.

The centre is the only one of its kind in the area, the nearest village convenience store being approximately 15 to 20 kilometres away in the Mapholaneng area.

“It will provide valuable services to people working on the Phase II site and is expected to attract people from the neighbouring villages within the Malingoaneng area,” LHDA said in a recent statement.

“Construction is expected to be completed by December 2023, along with the bulk of the Phase II advance infrastructure.”

LHDA Phase II Divisional Manager, Ntsoli Maiketso said in the statement the commercial centre construction contract completes procurement on the quartet of Phase II advance infrastructure Project housing construction tenders,

These are purposely packaged to enhance the participation of small and medium-sized contractors in Phase II, Maiketso said.

“Work on the other three construction contracts for the Polihali Village, upgrades to the Katse Lodge and Katse Village, and the Polihali Operations Centre is progressing well.”

Like the other Phase II Project housing buildings under construction, the commercial centre design prioritises sustainability, with energy efficiency being a particular focus. Amongst other architectural considerations, large windows allow natural light into the building while its north-facing orientation will minimize excessive heat loss in winter and heat gains in summer reducing heating and cooling requirements.

Polihali Infrastructure Consultants comprising the South African-based Mott MacDonald PDNA (Pty) Ltd and Khatleli Tomane Moteane Architects (Pty) Ltd of Lesotho was awarded the contract for the planning, design and construction supervision of the project housing and associated infrastructure in 2015.

The LHWP delivers water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and utilises the water delivery system to generate hydroelectricity in Lesotho. Phase II adds 2 325 million cubic metres in storage capacity to the LHWP and will increase the current annual supply rate from 780 million cubic metres to 1 270, contributing towards meeting South Africa’s increasing water needs.

The additional flow of water from Polihali will simultaneously increase power generation within Lesotho towards meeting Lesotho’s domestic needs and reducing the country’s dependence on electricity imports. Phase II will also include a hydropower scheme at Oxbow.

The main water transfer works, the Polihali Dam and Polihali Transfer Tunnel, were awarded at the end of 2022 and procurement for the design and construction supervision of the Oxbow Hydropower Scheme and its related social and environmental elements, also critical to Phase II, is currently underway.

Water transfer is expected to start in 2028 with commissioning of the Oxbow Hydropower Scheme expected to follow in 2029.

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