Villagers want LHDA to resolve grievances

Villagers want LHDA to resolve grievances

MASERU – COMMUNITY members from Ha-Mohale want the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) to hear out and resolve their grievances.
The National Coordinator of Survival of Lesotho Dams (SOLD), Lenka Thamae, told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that residents have burning issues they want ironed out.
These include the issuance of lifetime compensation from the LHDA since residents are adversely affected by the project, Thamae said.

Further, the residents want 10 percent royalties paid to them for the water exported to South Africa while homes and playgrounds damaged and destroyed because of the project should be refurbished.
People in Ha-Motloang also should be paid “harvesting compensation”, Thamae said, adding that Sekhebetlela Mojakhomo should be moved and compensated within a month.
The aggrieved residents want the LHDA to implement recommendations made by the Ombudsman in his 2003, 2006 and 2010 reports.
“These people want every damage to be compensated (for) especially Ha-Kokolia,” Thamae said.
Next Wednesday, the villagers will march to the Polihali Dam site in Mokhotlong and the residents around the planned dam area are expected to lodge more of their complaints to the LHDA management.
The planned construction of Polihali Dam will also lead to the destruction of 69 tree species and some important indigenous plants.

This is one of the issues that have triggered the protest.
Thamae said Metolong residents are unhappy that they are not enjoying any benefits from the dam project in their area.
He said residents once approached Parliament but the august House has failed to act.
Thamae said a separate protest targeted at Parliament is being planned.
Masilo Phakoe, the LHDA Public Relations Manager, said there is a standing policy to pay compensation to residents whose properties were affected by the project.
Arable land affected by the project is also being compensated for, he said.
“The constitution clearly states that such people should be compensated fully,” Phakoe said.
“However, they have a choice whether they can get their compensation as a lump sum or as annual compensation,” he said.

“But still, they can choose whether it is by cash or grain,” he said.
The LHDA is just an implementing authority and those with complaints should also approach the government.
Furthermore, he said there is what is called “effects liability period”, which is a period when people are given time to familiarise themselves with places they want to be relocated to.
If they are satisfied and have been relocated, the LHDA can repair any faults which may occur within the one year period of relocation.
“Therefore, in terms of Sekhebetlela Mojakhomo whom the residents of Ha-Mohale want to be relocated, the LHDA cannot do so because Mojakhomo had moved to the other village and left his home place in ruins,” Phakoe said.
He said the LHDA is trying “by all means” to abide by the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

Tokase Mphutlane

 

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