ENGINEERING consultancy Zutari Lesotho (Pty) Ltd has been awarded a R13 million service contract to develop a masterplan for feeder roads and bridges under the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP II).
The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) this week said the feeder roads are intended to improve connectivity and access of villages that will be affected by the construction of the Polihali dam and reservoir inundation.
Work on the contract is scheduled to start this month.
“The LHDA has awarded Zutari Lesotho (previously Aurecon Lesotho (Pty) Ltd), the professional services contract for the development of the Master Plan for the Feeder Roads and Bridges under LHWP Phase II,” the LHDA announced in a statement this weekend.
Zutari will be working with other Lesotho namely, Sechaba Consultants (Pty) Ltd, Morija Museum and Archives, Lerato Seleteng-Kose, and South African black-owned firms, ROMH Consulting and Leporogo Specialist Engineers CC as sub-consultants.
“Development of the master plan for the feeder roads and bridges is part of the process to determine the infrastructure required to support post – construction public mobility around and across the Polihali reservoir to be created under LHWP Phase II.
“It is one of the many initiatives implemented by the LHDA to mitigate the impact of Phase II. The bridges will provide a safe means of reservoir crossing and the linkage to the feeder roads,” the LHDA said.
Stakeholder engagement is crucial for the successful execution of the contract and the consultant will engage with affected communities, local community leaders, district authorities and the Polihali reservoir resettlement consultant and other interested and affected parties to identify the communities’ access requirements during construction and after reservoir inundation.
Identifying viable options for all feeder roads and bridges that are required to connect villages to each other and to the existing national road networks is also part of the key activities under the contract.
“The LHDA is sensitive to the impact of the LHWP on the affected communities, as major infrastructure projects tend to be disruptive if not carefully planned and managed. Viable options will be prioritised based on the findings of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) studies to be completed as part of the feeder roads master plan development process, as will the lessons learnt from Phase I regarding the mobility of communities around the reservoir,” LHDA Phase II Divisional Manager, Ntsoli Maiketso said.
The LHDA is working with specialist consultants to mitigate the impact of Phase II on local communities while also limiting the need for relocating households. However, the Polihali reservoir with an estimated surface area of 5000 hectares will result in the physical displacement of 270 households from 10 villages.
“A large number of households from other villages in the Project area will not be affected by relocation but the reservoir inundation will lead to loss of access or connection to markets and essential services, hence the need for the study to determine potential impacts and develop a master plan for the feeder roads and bridges that will mitigate the impacts,” the LHDA said.