The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Thika Superhighway Wasn't Built By Prisoners - China

The Chinese government has condemned what is terms as rumours that the workers who built the Thika Superhighway were prisoners from their home country.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Guangyuan said the "rumours that these kindhearted and hardworking people, just like you and me, have been defamed as prisoners makes me heart-broken". He said they have been branded prisoners simply because of the many hours they put in at work.

"You must agree with me that they deserve our respect and gratitude. The Chinese ethic insists on diligence and low profile. Indeed, this focus on excellence and timely completion of tasks, in a certain sense, explains why China managed to make such tremendous progress within thirty years of opening up and reform," Liu said.

He made the remarks last Friday during the official opening of the superhighway by President Kibaki, accompanied by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Liu also defended the three Chinese contractors who carried out the works, lauding them that during the entire project time, the workers neither went to bars in the evening nor on holiday to Mombasa beach. "Instead, they dedicated all their time and energy to this project."

"Since the Thika Superhighway project commenced about three years ago, the three Chinese contractors, SinoHydro, China Wu Yi and Shengli, have faced so many challenges. We are now happy to see that they have finished their work in a professional way and presented to the people of Kenya a beautiful and modern masterpiece.

The ambassador also hailed the leadership of Kibaki, saying for the last 10 years, Kenya has undergone tremendous transformation. "While on the one hand the infrastructure has gone through a total revolution, the living standards of Kenyans have been improved significantly.

Kibaki took the opportunity to warn road furniture vandals directing the security agencies to be aggressive in dealing with the menace. He said such thieves and their allies should be arrested and imprisoned.

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