Chinese firms act as goodwill ambassadors to Africa

15:57, May 04, 2011      

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Standing on the balcony of a hotel, which is located at the city center of Kenya's capital, you will see the Nairobi River, where the city got its name from, passes through the city and flows into the jungle. It seems like it is not just flowing away, but listening to the footstep of the city's development.

With the economic growth and strengthen of national power, Kenyan government has started expanding its urban roads, communicating projects and other infrastructures since the last few years, and construction sites can be seen nearly everywhere in Nairobi and even the whole country.

However, the interesting thing is Chinese companies and Chinese people appearing at nearly every construction site. These Chinese companies which had "gone out" are just like rainbows not only decorate the developing African earth, but also promote the friendship and understanding between people of that continent and China.

New roads will expand people's lives

Stopped by the flow of cars during the rush hour, the 36-year-old taxi driver, Paul, said: "The traffic jam will consume large amounts of our income since the oil price is so high."

However, he pointed at a flyover construction site near him and said: "When these bridges and roads built by Chinese companies finished, the traffic jam may disappear in Nairobi, and our jobs will be easier at that time."

"New roads and bridges will sort of expand people's lives here." He commented.

Paul also told reporters that the construction site was a large rotary island, called "Global Rotary Island", which is connecting the downtown of Nairobi, an International airport and a road leads to Thika, a town to the north of the capital. It was a very important transport junction for the city.

But since Nairobi's developing and increasing of its vehicles, the rotary island could not suit for its role anymore, so it officially "resigned" at the early of this year. And soon, it turned into a construction site for a new bridge.

In last few years, Kenyan government invested more on infrastructures, such as the Nairobi-Thika High Way. Paul said it would take 1.5 to 2 hours driving from Nairobi to Thika when traffic is not fluent, but that would be 40 minutes after the high way was finished.

"The time we use to drive for once now may be for twice and third times after new road is ready. Moreover, the maintaining fees for cars will be decreased since the road's situation is better, and then we will have much money in our pockets."

However, what the new roads and bridges will be not only benefits, but also some new challenges. "I think drivers like me will go back to driving schools to learn traffic regulations once again since they are ready." Paul said.

As a driver, Paul drove on nearly every main roads of the whole Kenya and he saw lots of Chinese companies and their projects in Kenya. He speaks highly of Chinese companies building roads with fast speed and high quality.

"Welcome Chinese companies to build more roads in Kenya." Paul said sincerely.

Ensuring the water supply during road construction

A Chinese company completed the construction of a road that the British did not dare to construct after 30 years of studies, according to the Agence France Presse (AFP).

Kenya's capital Nairobi is located on a plateau with a flat topography, which has made Museum Hill near the city center more prominent. There is a road under construction called the Nairobi-Thika highway that extends to the northeastern part of the city.
As Kenya's largest infrastructure project since the founding of the Republic of Kenya, the Nairobi-Thika highway has investments totaling 30 billion Kenyan shillings (1 U.S. dollar is about 81.1 Kenyan shillings) and is also the most important part of the Kenyan northern corridor. The China Wu Yi (Kenya) Corporation is responsible for the urban section of the Nairobi-Thika highway.

The company has actively implemented the localization strategy since it entered the Kenyan market in 2000, and registered a wholly-owned subsidiary with more than 3,000 local Kenyan employees. "The average monthly wage of workers and mechanical personnel in the company is around 15,000 Kenyan shillings and the average monthly wage of skilled labor can reach 30,000 Kenyan shillings," said a Kenyan employee who has worked in the company for nine years. This is very attractive for the people who live in a country with a 30 percent unemployment rate.

"Kindness" was the word reporters heard most from the staff of Wu Yi (Kenya). They said that the company started building the A2 road linking Kenya to Ethiopia three years ago. The construction work was difficult and drought was the biggest obstacle because a large amount of water was needed to lay a solid roadbed.

The water wagons transporting water to the construction site attracted a lot of villagers along the road who also suffered from the lack of water. It was a magnificent spectacle when the villagers carried buckets and drove livestock to fetch water at the construction site. Eight 60-ton water wagons were used to satisfy the water needs of the road project and local villagers.

Qiu Liangxin, general manager of China's Wu Yi Company, said although the water consumed for the project was enough to fill up an entire lake, they won the greatest possible support from the villagers along the road.

An AFP reporter wrote that it took a Chinese company only three years to complete a road project that British companies never really launched despite 30 years of research. Villagers, who are no longer worried about transportation, said that there has been more rain in the area since the completion of the road project.

Reliable quality

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki praised the high quality and environmental protection concept of the "China Road," and named it as a "model road."

An ordinary Kenyan citizen said that there is a well-known "China Road" in Kenya, called the Kenya A109 national road that was constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

The Kenya A109 national road is the most important artery road in the country. It connects Kenya's largest port Mombasa and Kenya's capital Nairobi and leads to Uganda passing through the A104 national road to the northwest and East African countries, such as Ethiopia, passing through the A2 national road to the north. It is a transport lifeline connecting the Indian Ocean and the African hinterland.

Kenyans prefer to call this 150-kilometer road the "China Road" rather than by its official name the A109 national road. The China Road and Bridge Corporation set a roadside sign with the abbreviation of the company name, CHINA ROAD (China Road), in order to mark the position of the Chinese workers' camp during road construction. Although the sign is already gone, the name "China Road" spread across the entire country by drivers passing by.

As an important artery road, the "China Road" needs to withstand the test of dry and high temperatures, as well as the grind of thousands of heavy trucks. The "China Road" is still as glorious as when it was new after 10 years, while a younger parallel section road that was constructed by another country no longer exists. The Kenyan government issued stamps commemorating the "China Road" in 2003 to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Kenya and this high-standard road.

Li Changgui, vice general manager of the Office at Nairobi of the China Road and Bridge Corporation, said that the "China Road" has become synonymous with all the roads undertaken by China and high-quality projects.

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(Editor:张心意)

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