BY JOHN BAIMBA SESAY :

Assistant Director-General, Executive Bureau of International Economic Cooperation, affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China has visited the Sierra Leone Embassy to update Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to China on Chinese funded and implemented projects in Sierra Leone. The Executive Bureau of International Economic Cooperation, which is also affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China, is responsible for managing the implementation of complete projects and technical cooperation projects connected with China’s foreign support. It has been carrying direct oversight responsibility for projects in Sierra Leone.

China’s Ministry of Commerce is the governmental sector sanctioned by the State Council to oversee foreign aid. It is generally responsible for the formulation of foreign aid policies, regulations, overall and annual plans, examination and approval of foreign aid projects, among other functions.

The main objective of the visit on the 30th July was to discuss the status of progress in the implementation of a number of key projects, some of which, including the new Jui hospital and the new office building complex of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation which  have already been completed. The meeting also acknowledged the satisfactory progress with respect to the Charlotte and the Bankasoka Hydro Power projects, and also the Bo Town Stadium project, the completion of which had been delayed due to some technical problems on the Chinese side. The meeting noted with satisfaction that these constraints have now been cleared.

However Zhao Dongliang informed Ambassador Abubakarr Multi-Kamara that they are encountering some problems in the smooth implementation of the Regent-Grafton Road project, such as demolition, relocation and resettlement works; aspects to do with settlements and communities along the proposed route, The two main sections of utmost concern include; the first 4km from Freetown/Regent end, and the last 2km link to Regent Village. “According to the contract, the responsibility of relocation and demolition should be undertaken by Sierra Leone but this is yet to be done and it has been affecting our work”, he said.

The road project, started in April this year, is expected to be completed within a 25 month period  but the Assistant Director-General assured  that full scale construction will be undertaken after the raining season and therefore asked, that  relevant authorities in Sierra Leone be informed about the challenges they are facing.  He said, when completed, the Regent-Grafton road will be of great benefit to Sierra Leone.

Responding, Ambassador Abubakarr Multi-Kamara thanked the Assistant Director-General for finding time to brief him on projects status in Sierra Leone, and was “very impressed by role China is playing in Sierra Leone which is very important in our development cooperation.” He assured, that the concerns raised have been noted   with a strong desire and full commitment to appropriately inform all the relevant authorities in Sierra Leone. “ I will inform  all the relevant authorities in Freetown not just about  the difficulties you are getting in the Regent-Grafton project but progress that you have made in the Charlotte and Port Loko Dam projects.”  He also commended the Assistant Director-General for not just the support they are providing to Sierra Leone but “for your sincere efforts in helping us.” He also used the occasion to reaffirm Sierra Leone’s commitment to strengthening its relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

Speaking further, Ambassador Multi-Kamara called for strong operational relationship between the Embassy and the Executive Bureau of International Economic Cooperation, in the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and especially called for “periodic meetings” so as to ensure an effective cooperation. He expressed  optimism  that when once pending and ongoing projects are completed in Sierra Leone, that  will help in fostering better prospect for technical cooperation between the two countries.

The Regent-Grafton road project, estimated at cost 180 Chinese Yen (US$30M) is the largest undertaken by the Chinese Government in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government, through its Embassy in Sierra Leone on May 13th this year handed over the new hospital, constructed in Jui on the periphery of Freetown. The construction of the hospital was also funded by the Chinese Government.

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