As part of routine inspection and maintenance of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project’s (LHWP) assets, the LHDA jointly with the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) will perform routine inspection and maintenance works on the water transfer and delivery tunnels from the 1st October to the 30th November 2019 .
The current inspection and maintenance is a follow up to the works undertaken in 2012. The focus is to ensure continued sustainable operations and service of the tunnels and all electro-mechanical components from the Katse Intake Tower, through Muela Power Station to the Ash River Outfall. In addition to the inspection of the tunnel condition, the LHDA will undertake installation of new state of the art water flow meters at Ngoajane flow measuring station and replace the valve at the ‘Muela Hydropower station bypass. The TCTA is also undertaking routine inspection and maintenance work within the South African side of the border.
Like all other maintenance works that have been done before, according to Mr. Reentseng Molapo, the LHDA’s Divisional Manager-Development and Operations (DM DOD), the current one is done to ensure that the LHWP is able to deliver on its mandate of generating hydropower in Lesotho and transferring high quality water to South Africa. According to Molapo, in order to ensure that the inspection and maintenance workers can gain access to the tunnels, there would be a stoppage of water transfer to South Africa and electricity generation in Lesotho. This therefore means that during this period Lesotho will not be generating its own electricity but will rely on supply from ESKOM in South Africa and the EDM in Mozambique.
Molapo further explains that in preparation for the outage, a number of contracts for the work to be done and equipment to be replaced have been awarded. Furthermore, several technical meetings and trainings have been held since the start of the planning for the outage. The maintenance workers have also been given training on safety in the tunnels, First Aid and use of breathing apparatuses in cases where air within the tunnel is insufficient.
The first part of the operation, which is the repair work on the Katse intake commenced on the 19th September 2019 while water delivery and hydropower generation stopped at midnight 30th September 2019. The electricity generation and the water delivery to South Africa will resume at midnight on the 30th November 2019.