July is a time when dry and rainy seasons alternate in the tropical grasslands of West Africa. The rain brings a new appearance to this “land of hope”. A highway running across the desert that is under construction with the help of Chinese engineers also brings a new and more spectacular view to Africa’s landscape.
In the past, there was only one road from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, to Thies Region, a holy city in West Africa.
In order to solve the severe traffic jams during festivals, the Senegal government began planning the Thies-Touba Highway project in 2015. The highway is to be 113 km in length from west to east.
“Cours De Bambay”, a practical Chinese language training program
The infrastructure project is one of the most important of the tenure of Senegal President Macky Sall. China Road and Bridge Corporation, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, won the bidding and has been in charge of construction since June 2015. The highway is a key project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and a stepping stone into the Senegal Market for the Chinese infrastructure group.
The local environment in Senegal is quite different from China’s, bringing challenges as well as opportunities to the Chinese engineering crew. Local deserts abound with laterite and the temperature is quite high, but Chinese engineers have successfully solved such problems before.
Thies-Touba Highway project
Chinese workers put the highway under strict control to both French and Chinese engineering standards. Although it has increased the amount of work, the quality and safety of the project are guaranteed.
“It is a great honor and responsibility to sketch out such a highway through the desert in the ‘land of hope’, and to be part of the engineering project for the Belt and Road Initiative”, said Zhang Weiman, a sub-project vice manager.
Once the highway is opened it will benefit not only domestic traffic in Senegal but also Senegal’s connections with neighboring countries. The highway will advance Senegal’s development economically and otherwise.
The Chinese managers of the project also provide practical Chinese language training for local employees, to ensure effective communication between African and Chinese employees.
A photo of local people and staff of China Communications Construction Company
“Cours De Bambay” is one of the training programs. Besides language training, it also serves as a platform of cultural exchange between the two countries.
A Bambay Scholarship was launched to fund the outstanding students’ exchange tour to China.
Omar Ndyie, one of the recipients of Bambay Scholarship started his exchange tour in China in December 2017 and witnesses the Senegal-China friendship.
He takes the Chinese classes actively and is fascinated about Chinese culture. He and his family would not miss any parties or cultural events hosted by the Chinese staff.
Corban Festival is a grand celebration in Senegal and Omar Ndyie gave warm invitation to his Chinese colleagues to join them. African and Chinese staff would exchange gifts with each other.
Omar said it was Chinese company that brought him and his family a better life, and that he loves China.
(Executive editor: Hao Wen)