President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) as a project that has not only made history, but has brought hope to the citizens of both Lesotho and South Africa.
The President was speaking at the launch of Phase 2 of the LHWP at Polihali Dam in the mountain kingdom.
“I would like to emphasise that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is more than just a water project.
“It is a beacon of hope, a symbol of progress, a symbol of international cooperation, and a testament to the strength of bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa. Together, we have achieved a lot, and I have no doubt that we will continue to work together to ensure that this project is completed successfully,” President Ramaphosa said.
President Ramaphosa noted that once Phase 2 is complete, “more than 400 million cubic meters of water will flow every year from the upper reaches of the Senqu River in Lesotho through the existing conveyance infrastructure to the Vaal Dam in South Africa”.
He emphasised, however, that the benefits of the project are not only one sided.
“We are determined that this massive trans-border project should equally benefit the peoples of Lesotho and South Africa. In addition to the royalties Lesotho receives from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, local jobs have been created and new roads have been built in the Kingdom.
“Both Phase I and II include the construction of hydropower facilities to provide electricity for Lesotho. It has been critical for us as both Lesotho and South Africa that all communities affected by the construction of the Polihali Dam were consulted, that there should be fair compensation and relocation to alternative housing nearby,” he said.
The President highlighted that the LHW project is one of biggest infrastructure investment that government has embarked on outside its borders.
“This project is a good example of public-private collaboration to build key public infrastructure. Most of the approximately R40 billion in capital required for Phase Two will be raised in South Africa’s financial markets by the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority. The private sector is playing a similar role in many of our other major water resource infrastructure projects in South Africa,” he said.
Turning to South Africa’s own plans, the President said South Africa and Namibia’s governments are also working together to add further water infrastructure.
“As African countries all our water resources are interconnected. South Africa shares 60 per cent of its freshwater resources with its neighbours. We are therefore committed to multilateral trans-border collaboration to ensure that shared water resources are used for the benefit of all.
“As South Africa, we are also working with Namibia on the joint planning of additional dam infrastructure on the Lower Orange River. This is to ensure that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project does not negatively impact the Lower Orange River system,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za
Source: South African Government News Agency