Support Chinese contractor, Basotho urged
THE Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua, has called on the people of Qacha’s Nek to support the Chinese contractor who will be selected to construct the M1, 4 billion road from Ha Mpiti to Sehlabathebe.
Dr Xianghua said the support of the district was crucial as the road would spur economic development through job creation and tourism as it would make the Sehlabathebe National Park accessible to local and international tourists.
Dr Xianghua recently said this while addressing the Ha Sekake community in the Qacha’s Nek district.
The construction of the 92 kilometre Ha Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road in the Qacha’s Nek district is on course to begin before the end of the year after the government and the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) recently signed a M1, 4 billion concessionary loan agreement.
Finance minister Moeketsi Majoro signed on behalf of the government while EXIM Bank was represented by Zhang Chenxu.
Dr Xianghua urged the people in the district to work in harmony with the Chinese contractor who will construct the road.
“I am glad to say that one of the major infrastructure projects will be carried out here in Qacha’s Nek very soon,” Dr Xianghua said.
“Within three years, the road infrastructure of this district will be greatly improved, thus giving a tremendous boost to the tourism sector in Lesotho. More jobs will be created which in turn will improve many people’s lives.
“The Chinese always bring state-of-the-art infrastructure to Lesotho, a typical example being the road from Roma to this place. I sincerely hope the people of Qacha’s Nek will give whatever support they can to the contractor of this project in order to make this long-dreamed of road a reality,” he said.
Local contractors have raised concerns about the awarding of major tenders including the Ha Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road to Chinese contractors, saying the government was sidelining them and thus contributing to the overall poor performance of local companies and the economy.
However, Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro recently said the government was alive to the concerns of local contractors and it was doing its best to assist them.
Dr Majoro said that while the construction of the Ha Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road will primarily be undertaken by Chinese contractors, the government had however, successfully negotiated for 30 percent of the project to be sub-contracted to local companies.
He also pointed that the government had not awarded the road construction tender to a Chinese company but that the terms of the loan allow China to bring its own construction company.
“A concessionary loan is a financial assistance package from a developed country to a third-world country where the financer exports services to the country being helped.
“In this case, it means that as the financer, the EXIM Bank of China will bring a contractor to build the road.
“Therefore, it should be clear that in this case there is no Chinese company which was given a tender by the government of Lesotho. However, we negotiated with them to allocate local construction companies 30 percent of the job,” Dr Majoro said.A statement recently released by the Ministry of Finance further indicates that construction will begin before the end of the year and that Lesotho will only start repaying the loan in 2023 with the interest rate being set at two percent per annum.