Kenyan minister praises Chinese workmanship

10:18, April 28, 2011      

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Kenya's Minister for Water and Irrigation Charity Ngilu has praised Chinese expertise saying the local engineers have a lot to learn from their Asian counterparts.

Ngilu made the remarks on Tuesday during the commissioning of Sasamua Dam in Central Kenya that was rehabilitated by the Chinese company Sino Hydro after exceptional rains in May 2003 caused massive damage to the dam's reinforced concrete spillway.

"Our local engineers should learn from their Chinese counterparts who work diligently instead of constantly complaining, " said the Minister.

Ngilu is the second minister in as many months to openly commend Chinese capability.

In 2010, Roads Minister Franklin Bett told of a conglomerate of local contractors who had petitioned him about Chinese firms being awarded lucrative road tenders, reminding them that their work should speak for them.

"Tenders for road construction are bid competitively. Chinese firms offer low bids, do quality work and above all complete work ahead of time. If the status quo prevails, we will continue awarding them tenders as you continue to watch from the sidelines because we cannot award you tenders on brotherhood basis," Bett said then.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is an engineer by profession, has on several occasions challenged the local road construction firms to improve their standards and take on Chinese companies that have won several tenders in the country's major road expansion program.

"You have to be competitive vis-a-vis the Chinese in terms of costs, quality and speed," he recently told a symposium called by the ministry of roads to find ways of increasing the involvement of local firms in construction projects.

The Kenya government has embarked on its most ambitious infrastructure investment program ever that entails construction of new roads upgrading of some facilities and the rehabilitation of others in a project that costs over one billion dollars.

Major projects carried out by Chinese contractors include sections of the highway linking the capital Nairobi to the port of Mombasa, as well as a 12-lane 40 km thoroughfare between Nairobi and the town of Thika, which is expected to ease traffic in the capital upon completion in two years.

In the past, some contractors have given the sector a bad name through project delays, shoddy work that frayed soon after completion and diversion of project funds.

Work on Sasamua Dam involved demolition of defined existing concrete slabs, weirs and structures, diaphragm wall construction, bulk excavation at spillway basin and construction of a soil- nailed wall at the steep downstream excavated face on the left bank of the spillway basin.

Also undertaken was the construction of an underground drainage system, concrete works, backfilling behind spillway basin walls and rip rap reconstruction on upstream slope of the main dam.

Source: Xinhua
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