By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – Lesotho Lowlands Water Project held a contactors briefing of the overview on the project underway, opportunities ahead for locals, procurement processes as well as the challenges encountered in the construction sector.

Project overseer, Mathealira Lerotholi, said the public and stakeholders were made aware of the project plan three years prior its implementation. “We can confidently say we reached out to almost everyone who needed to know about the initiative- the community, politicians, but the people here today who work on the ground ensuring the implementation of this project and this is the opportunity to do so.” He stated that the desire to hold this type of meeting with the construction industry has always been there but failed due to unforeseen circumstances and the Covid-19 pandemic. On that note, it was deemed fit to call this briefing on matters affecting the contractors and suppliers to notify them about the ins and outs of the project which is expected to be completed by 2025 and 2027 respectively for both project areas.   

He explained that the project received funding from the government as well as two banks- European Investment Bank and World Bank. The estimated amount for the project is 200 000 000 Euros which is above M200 Billion when converted. All this was to change the current state of the country for better. “For the size of our economy, that is a lot of money and we do not want to take it lightly. We do not want to assume things when it comes to the industry”, he said.

 The project will particularly supply water to Hlotse and Maputsoe and all the surrounding villages as well as where bigger pipes run through. Mr. Lerotholi said this project is similar to the one in Metolong and similar studies have been carried-out such that people surrounding the area benefit from the project. “We are here today, to also here to heed to your concerns and questions because you are key-players in making this project possible. Unfortunately, we are doing this under pressure because we are approaching fast the tendering moments. We realized we ought to sit down with you so that we can exchange ideas and maybe get inputs from your side on how to go about certain things.  because worrying issues are surfacing that we would like to alert you about so that you do not fall into the trap or find yourselves victims of such”, he said.

The project was structured in a way that in case of emergencies, the country can respond by seeking assistance from the World Bank in particular by the contingency response component. “It was no Zero budgeted and did not have money, but it is such that in case of emergencies, there could be rapid responses coming from the financiers. Our experience with the contractors that were engaged is that they are now putting pressure on us that we talk generally with the contractors in Lesotho that they are aware of certain trends, expectations from them to tender particularly on the safe guards side.” He emphasised that another issue at hand was to alert contractors and suppliers about fraudsters because for the past year, fraudulent attempts have been received. Apparently there have been fake social media pages offering people false dreams including job opportunities at a certain price, different construction materials which cost a large amount of money and more which lead some people to eventually think the project is a scam. Therefore, the public has been alerted on such to be careful and go through different safety processes to ensure they obtain correct information.