State House, Freetown, Tuesday 13 August 2019– The new Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Hu Zhangliang, has called on the presidency to discuss bilateral relations and development projects with His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio.
“I extend warmest greetings from His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, who is very much impressed with your presidency, particularly in areas of territorial integrity, sovereignty and security, diplomacy and development,” the Ambassador said.
He disclosed that feasibility studies for the rehabilitation of Wilberforce Military Barracks, which houses the Hockey Pitch and 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, and that for the construction of the Foreign Service Academy were already complete, adding that the bidding processes would soon commence.
“The Chinese government has also made special arrangements for the loan application for the Optical Fibre Network phase two project and we have already approved the loan application. Once Ministry of Finance is done with the loan deal, the work will commence within three weeks,” he noted.
Ambassador Hu further told the President that his government had promised Sierra Leone some food aid to the needy, adding that the first two consignments of 2,000 tons of that assistance had arrived in Freetown and were being delivered. He said another 1,500 tons of food support would arrive within few days, while 3,400 tons would arrive later.
“In terms of improving the capability of receiving state guests, my government is considering to help your government set up a VVIP Convoy with bikes, cars and support cars. And I believe that all of these will be delivered by February 2020. We are also looking at the rehabilitation of the VIP Lounge at the Lungi International Airport,” he said.
The Chinese Ambassador also said that as a way of improving the human capital development, which is the flagship program of the New Direction government, Chinese universities would have accepted 100 new students from Sierra Leone, more than 30 military officers to study in China and offered over 700 Chinese short courses by end of the year.
In his response President Bio said that he was happy to receive the Chinese Ambassador to discuss issues relating to the two countries’ current and future projects.
“I am happy with the development of ongoing projects, the Fibre Optic extension which is visible, the food aid, VVIP Convoy, the rehabilitation of the Wilberforce Military Barracks, and improving on the number of Sierra Leonean students. We think this falls in line with the government’s human capital development agenda. As true friends we will also work together,” President Bio said.