The Minister of Water and Sanitation from South Africa, Mr. Senzo Mchunu says despite delays that were experienced for Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), the construction will be completed as scheduled.
The Minister said this in an interview with the media from both Lesotho and South Africa conducted after the official sod-turning ceremony of the LHWP Phase II held at Malingoaneng in Mokhotlong on Tuesday.
Phase II which entails the construction of the Polihali Dam, Transfer Tunnel and Senqu bridge is reported to have been delayed for the past two years but Minister Mchunu said now that the main works for phase II have been launched through the sod-turning activity, the project is still on track as the deadline for water to start flowing into South Africa is 2027.
He however said the delay is regrettable as it would have costs that would have been avoided.
On the issue of South Africa’s impression about the complaints lodged by the local communities concerning compensation, Mr. Mchunu said the undertakings made to affected communities must be met because both Lesotho and South African people are going to benefit from the project.
On the other hand, the Minister of Natural Resources in Lesotho Mr. Mohlomi Moleko said programmes that are intended to address the social impact resulting from the project will be instituted.
The Minister was responding to the social impact posed by the project whereby it is alleged that young girls from 13 years old are engaging in risky sexual behaviours with contractors and end up giving birth at a tender age.
Mr. Moleko added that they will do all they can to address the situation, though difficult, as they do not have full control over contractors and girls coming to the campsites but promised that the issue will be addressed.
The sod-turning ceremony was performed by His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
Source: LENA 24/05/2023