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SA’s thirst to be quenched


While Lesotho’s royalties coffers suffer a set-back

Ntsoaki Motaung

Following two months of planned maintenance shutdown of the water transfer and delivery tunnels, the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) jointly with South Africa’s the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) have successfully completed routine inspection and maintenance works.

Reentseng Molapo, the LHDA’s Divisional Manager-Development and Operations (DM DOD), indicated that from November 18 2019, the tunnels and ‘Muela Dam was slowly filled with water to gear up towards transferring water to South Africa and electricity generation for Lesotho on December 1, 2019.

“Due to the maintenance, the government of Lesotho has not received royalties from South Africa, but received only the fixed royalties that South Africa pays to the country even when they were not transferred any water. That means, the country has not received royalties for two months of maintenance,” Molapo said.

According to Molapo the water levels in the dams are slowly rising, putting Katse Dam to 16% after their measurements on Monday compared to its last measurement of 10% before the opening of tunnels.

“Mohale Dam is at 23.6% according to the measurements taken on Tuesday,” he said.

He added, “The LHDA and South Africa have agreed on delivering 700 million cubic meters this year while their normal mandate for each year is 780 million cubic meters.”

Molapo indicated that through the maintenance, the focus was to ensure unimpeded performance of the tunnels in order to warrant sustainable operations of all electro-mechanical components of the project from Katse intake tower through the ‘Muela Hydropower Station, and the Ash River Outfall in Clarens, South Africa.

Molapo indicated that the current weather conditions has affected the amount of water to be collected, however, he confirmed that they are going to transfer the 700 million cubic meters agreed amount of water between the Authority and South Africa.

The maintenance were undertaken to ensure that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is able to deliver on its mandate of generating Hydropower for Lesotho and transferring high quality water to South Africa.

The maintenance works commenced from October 7, 2019 to November 15 2019.

“This therefore means that during this period Lesotho did not generate own electricity but relied on supply from ESKOM in South Africa and the Electricidade de Mozambigue (EDM) in Mozambique,” Molapo explained.

He highlighted that the works carried out during the two months included inspection of the condition of the tunnels and ‘Muela Hydropower station surge shaft, installation of new state of the art water flow meters at Ngoajane flow measuring station, corrosion protection repair works on the tunnels steel linings, replacement of the valve at the ‘Muela Hydropower Station bypass and other annual maintenance works of the hydropower plant.

Edited by Lerato Matheka

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