By Duncan Mlanjira
Just like the Khato Civils water pipeline project from the Lake Malawi district of Salima to the Capital City Lilongwe, from which all the communities along the pipeline will benefit with clean and easily accessible water supply, the South Africa-based Malawian company is also undertaking similar project in Botswana from which about 700,000 people in Greater Gaborone are expected to benefit.
The 12-month project in Botswana started on 1st May, 2020 with initial works such as site establishment and bush clearing and on Monday, October 5 there was a ground breaking ceremony where Khato announced it has reserved some corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to benefit the communities in which the company will be doing its business for both the Salima and the Greater Gaborone projects.
The Malawi project has already been factored in the 2020-21 National Budget that was presented in Parliament last month by Finance Minister, Felix Mlusu under irrigation and water development that includes other projects such as the Southern Region and Blantyre Water Board; Lilongwe Water and Sanitation; Nkhata Bay and Karonga water supply.
Initially estimated at $400 million (about MK296 billion), the Lilongwe-Salima project will eventually cost $298 million (over MK219 billion).
The new estimate was made public on August 27 by chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Welani Chilenga, during a virtual meeting attended by Khato Civils, Ministry of Finance, Department of Environmental Affairs and Lilongwe Water Board.
Khato Civils is planning to build a water intake in Lake Malawi where pumps will be installed in the middle of the lake — some 500m from the shore.
The intake will make it possible to pump 50,000m3 of raw water per day to supply a drinking water plant, which will be located 2km away.
The water taken from the lake will thus follow a 50cm diameter pipe. The water leaving the plant will first be stored in a 5,000m3 reservoir in the locality of Lifuwu.
It will then be pumped through a 54 km long pipe before arriving in the locality of Kanyenyeva.
Khato is also expected to build a 5,000m3 reservoir to a pumping station and will again follow a 22km long pipeline before arriving in Dowa District.
The water will make a final 35km journey between Dowa and Kanengo, where there is already a reservoir which will then distribute to the populations of Lilongwe and surrounding areas.
Khato Civils will work on this project with the consulting firm South Zambezi Engineering Services while in Botswana it is undertaking the project with its main citizen partner on the project, Evolution Engineering, which has been allocated 30% of the project value and that local procurement entities are also been empowered just as it would be done in Malawi.
The groundbreaking in Botswana on Monday was attended by among others, that country’s Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila, who disclosed that about 179 million litres of water per day is required in Greater Gaborone region but the currently supply is at 130 million litres per day.
And thus the Masama-Mmamashia 100km pipeline project is the solution for the 49 million litters daily deficit.
“This will significantly alleviate the water shortages in the area,” Mzwinila is quoted as saying. “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s no longer just an emergency project, but a life or death project.
“To protect Batswana from the Coronavirus, we need water. There has been water rationing due to the shortage of water. Bearing in mind that development is an ongoing process and not an event, as the nation develops, water needs become more complex and robust.
“Water stress also increases. Botswana needs water, not only for health. At the moment, it’s clear, water is the first line of defense against the Coronavirus.
“We want to ensure that all Batswana have adequate clean water supply to defend themselves from being infected by the Coronavirus.”
He added that as part of the land policy in Botswana, water provision is a forerunner to land allocation.
“Once people have been allocated land, they must have access to water. There has been a delay in the allocation of land but land allocation will resume once the water project has been completed.”
He explained that Botswana is working on a 30-50 year solution to the water needs of its citizens and the plan is to get water from the Chobe Zambezi River in the North, in agreements with the Republic of Zimbabwe — whose pipeline will be known as North South Carrier 3.
“There are nine dams across the country — one in South Africa that provides water to Botswana. So the Masama-Mmamashia 100km pipeline is crucial to the overall water management solution.
“Due to climate change, water levels have decreased. This has increased the need to get water from underground sources, to ensure sustainable water management.
He then asked Khato Civils to take special appreciation that the Botswana government have very high expectations and demands from the contractor as it is taking on an emergency project.
“It is an emergency project in the sense that we are dealing with a deficit of 49 million litres per day. That by definition is an emergency project.
“Apart from it being an emergency, now that we are in a state of emergency, caused by Coronavirus, it is of utmost importance. It is a national security issue, that we have sustainable and reliable water to defend ourselves. The first line of defence, is the availability of water.
“The people of Greater Gaborone are waiting. It has taken some time for us to get here, but the important thing is that we are here now.
“You as the contractor should understand us, understand that this is not a normal project. Other aspects of the economy will be halted if we don’t get sufficient water.
“The Leather park in Lobatse, will be extremely dysfunctional if it does not get large amounts of water. This affects employment creation.”
He pointed out other infrastructure projects underway at the moment such as a hospital in Moshopa that is being built and requires the availability of water and the continuum of all ministries rely on Khato Civils to finish on time.
“So we are expecting that. Our people for a long time have not had sufficient water. They have not had water security. We are relying on you.”
In response Khato Civil’s Executive Chairman, Simbi Phiri explained that Khato simply means ‘a step forward’ in Setswana, saying Khato Civils is a step forward in engineering in the sense that it is a black owned company in a field that is dominated by whites and other races outside Africa.
“What sets the company apart from others is a commitment to excellence when given any engineering project, to execute it within time and within budget.”
Simbi Phiri gave an assurance to complete the project within the expected months “and beyond that, to uphold the best engineering quality management practices throughout all the phases of construction”.
“The project is currently ahead of schedule. To ensure that the project is completed on schedule, four Tasmec Trenchers, fully owned by Khato Civils, have been brought to Botswana for the project. Each can trench up to 2km per day.”