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LHDA awards M2 Billion Senqu Bridge construction tender

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THE Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has awarded WRES Senqu Bridge Joint Venture a massive M2 billion contract for the construction of the Senqu Bridge under Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

In a weekend statement, the LHDA said the joint venture comprises of Lesotho, South African and international companies “as per the requirements of the Phase II agreement between Lesotho and South Africa”.

“The primary partners are: Webuild S.p.A. (from Italy); Raubex Construction (Pty) Ltd (South Africa); Enza Construction (Pty) Ltd (South Africa) and Sigma Construction (Pty) Ltd (Lesotho).

“The sub-contractors include:  EXR Construction (Pty) Ltd (South Africa; Gleitbau-Geselschaft (Austria); Post Tensioning and Structural Solutions (Pty) Ltd (South Africa) and Freyssinet International et Cie (France).”

The LHDA said construction of the bridge, which will span the proposed Polihali Dam, will begin soon and take three years to complete.

“Almost a kilometre long (825m) and at a height of 90m, the Senqu Bridge will be the first extradosed bridge in Lesotho and is larger than the Mphorosane Bridge on the Malibamats’o River which spans the Katse Dam and was constructed under Phase I of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

“It is also the largest of the three bridges that will be constructed under Phase II to span the Polihali reservoir. The bridge design has taken into consideration the Mokhotlong highlands’ long, cold and harsh winter conditions.

“Experience and expertise are crucial in delivering a sophisticated, technically challenging project of this kind, which will be a first for the LHWP and Lesotho.

“Work on the bridge design started in 2018, led by Zutari, formerly Aurecon Lesotho. Zutari also designed the Mabunyaneng and Khubelu bridges, the other two major bridges to be constructed under Phase II.

“The tender for the construction of these two bridges is currently under evaluation. Zutari will also supervise the construction of the three bridges,” the LHDA said.

The LHDA is the implementing authority of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP II).

The LHWP is a multi-phased project to provide water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and to generate hydro-electricity for Lesotho. It was established by the 1986 Treaty signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.

The project entails harnessing the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Phase I of the LHWP, consisting of the Katse and Mohale dams, the ‘Muela hydropower station and associated tunnels was completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004. Phase II of the LHWP is currently in progress. It consists of two separate but related components: water transfer and hydropower generation.

The bilateral project which is estimated to cost at least M23 billion, is expected to provide about 3 000 jobs at the peak of its operations.

The water transfer component of Phase II comprises an approximately 165m high concrete faced rock fill Dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers and an approximately 38km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.

Other Phase II activities include advance infrastructure (roads, accommodation, power lines and telecommunication) and the implementation of environmental and social mitigation measures.

Construction of the advance infrastructure works commenced in February 2019.

An extradosed bridge employs a structure that combines the main elements of both a prestressed box girder bridge and a cable-stayed bridge.

The LHDA is raving about the proposed bridge which will not only serve a functional purpose but is likely to be a major tourist attraction due to its aesthetics which it says will be “pleasing to the eye”.

“With its unique features, the Senqu Bridge will not only form part of the safe and efficient road infrastructure network constructed under Phase II but it will be a major tourist attraction contributing to long term benefits in stimulating sustainable economic growth,” Ntsoli Maiketso, the Phase II Divisional Manager, said.