Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sierra Leone: President Bio hails China’s continued support in infrastructure development | Africanews

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Julius Maada Bio, president of the Republic of Sierra Leone, hailed China’s continued support to the western African country in infrastructure development in an interview during his state visit to China.

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bio visited China from Feb. 27 to March 2. It was his second visit to China since he assumed the presidency.

China and Sierra Leone have established diplomatic relations for over five decades. Under the cooperative framework between China and Sierra Leone, many railway and bridge projects have been successfully implemented in the western African country. One notable example is the Second Juba Bridge, which is named after a great Sierra Leonean hero, Sendgbe Pieh. The 81.8-meter bridge, which is located at the traffic fortress in the western part of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has greatly alleviated traffic congestion and effectively improve the travel of residents. An achievement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation between China and Sierra Leone, the bridge is considered as a remarkable symbol of China-Sierra Leone friendship.

Speaking highly of the bridge, President Bio said it has kept his people safe during the rainy seasons, particularly women and children.

“Well, bridges, as you know, physically link one part to another. And it can be a serious obstacle [without bridges], especially in our part of the world, where it rains very heavily at one time of the year, and where you have schools on the other side and health facilities on the other side. It prevents people from both sides to access those facilities, and those who attempt in the middle of the rains. We have accidents, we have kids get drowned, because they’re using small canoe to go across just maybe to go to school or to access health facilities. Pregnant women and so on and so forth,” Bio said in the interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Beijing.

In addition, there are many other China-aided projects in the western African country that now stand out as testaments to the long-lasting friendship between the two countries.

The Youyi building in Freetown, aided by China in the 1970s, still serves as the country’s government office. “Youyi” means friendship in Chinese, and it has become an old phrase in Sierra Leone that almost everyone can pronounce because of the building’s popularity.

The renovation of the Sierra Leone National Stadium, funded by the Chinese side, started in 2022 and it is expected to be handed over in November this year.

In southeastern Freetown, the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Road connects the villages of Regent and Kossoh, serving as an artery for people living near the capital city.

The China-aided Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital is labeled as one of the best comprehensive hospitals in the country. It hosts the Chinese medical teams dispatched by the government, which consist of top-notch medical specialists in different fields. In the face of health emergencies such as Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the Chinese doctors who joined hand in hand with their local counterparts to help the country weather the storm.

“I must commend the leadership here for supporting some of those initiatives, like the Juba Bridge that you just mentioned. There are other roads. The stadium that we have is an example. There are quite a lot, as far as Chinese infrastructure development is concerned. They have been of immense importance to us,” the president said.

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