By BRIAN MALAMA
CHINESE Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao is confident President Sata will spur Zambia to prosperity which will in turn see a rise in jobs and significant reduction in poverty levels.
Mr Zhou said he drew his inspiration of a successful Zambia under President Sata from the numerous capital and labour- intensive development projects Government has embarked on since assuming office.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Zhou also asked Zambians to keep the faith in the Patriotic Front (PF) leadership which he believes means well. He cautioned critics to be fair.
“This country is headed for prosperity and development,” the envoy of the world’s second largest economy said.
He said Government’s policy on infrastructure development and education, particularly in rural communities, is key to growing the economy and China stands ready to assist Government in any way it can.
Mr Zhou said Government’s policy of opening up rural areas will in the near future boost agricultural and other industrial activities on the outskirts.
“I was so excited and impressed personally to see the level of Government’s commitment to developing rural areas,” Mr Zhou said.
“For example, I found a new school and about 32 to 40 new housing units for teachers nearly completed in Western Province,” he said.
Mr Zhou said: “I also went to a nursing school in Senanga which is under construction. Such levels of development, especially in the education sector, are brilliant. The construction of modern infrastructure in rural areas will certainly motivate anyone to work from there.
The Chinese envoy also expressed concern that despite wanting to expedite the completion of the US$287 million 31km Mongu-Kalabo road, the project is the most expensive “short stretch” undertaking his country has ever embarked upon in Zambia.
“The stretch seats on a very sandy river bed, the area doesn’t have clay or gravel,” Mr Zhou lamented. “The area does not have recommended type of stone or rocks. We have to import rocks from Lusaka and lastly, the construction period is only three months in a year due to flooding.”
The 31-kilometre road will have 25 bridges, with the longest being 1.2km.
The Mongu-Kalabo road project has created about 500 jobs for local people.
Mr Zhou has also repeated his appeal to Zambian workers and Chinese expatriates to join hands and work as one family in expanding the economy.
“We need to work as brothers, cultural differences will always be there but we need to tolerate and embrace one another because we are one in essence,” Mr Zhou said.
He also said Government must be rightly applauded for releasing K278 billion to pay pensioners and for releasing K42 billion to resume Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia operations and various other projects the country may embark upon using the US$750 million Eurobond.
The government has also embarked on a multi-trillion Kwacha 8,000km road project that has potential of creating 24,000 jobs.
Relations between Zambia and China have remarkably improved since President Sata extended a hand of friendship when he assumed office after a rough pre-election start.
Mr Zhou said China will continue to co-oporate with Zambia in various development projects that include infrastructure development.