The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) announced that Mkhulu Electro Distribution Projects (Pty) Ltd has won the contract for the construction of a 132kV power line from Matsoku to Polihali, an essential component of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II.
The second of the two bulk power components of the Phase II advance infrastructure, the project commenced in September and is expected to be completed in two years. The project is valued at M494 million.
The works under this contract include the construction of a new, approximately 38km long, 132kV line between the existing Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) transmission network in the Matsoku Valley to the Polihali Dam construction site, and the upgrading of existing LEC lines from Ha Lejone to Matsoku, and Maputsoe to Katse. The upgrade comprises the installation of insulation and shielding earth conductors. The works also include the installation of optical ground wire (fibre) communication line from Maputsoe to Katse and Polihali. This line is intended to enhance communication at the project area.
South African-based Mkhulu Electro Distribution Projects has extensive experience in overhead transmission line construction and civil engineering projects in southern Africa, including in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.
In March 2019, the LHDA awarded the tender for the construction of a 33kV line and the diversion of an existing 33kV LEC distribution line to LSP Construction at a contract value of M41 million. The 33kV line which is constructed from the existing Letseng/Mokhotlong distribution network will supply power to the Polihali construction village site, temporarily. Sections of an existing LEC 33kV distribution network between Letšeng and Mokhotlong, will be submerged in five different positions by the new Polihali Dam at full supply level necessitating the diversion of the existing line.
Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project builds on the successful completion of Phase I in 2003. It delivers water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and utilises the water delivery system to generate hydroelectricity for Lesotho. Phase II will increase the current water supply rate of 780 million cubic metres per annum incrementally to more than 1 270 million cubic metres per annum. At the same time, it will increase the quantity of electricity generated in Lesotho and is a further step in the process of securing an independent electricity source. The hydropower further feasibility studies have confirmed that conventional hydropower is the preferred option for Phase II.