Lesotho launches China-funded Mpiti to Sehlabathebe road project

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A sod-turning ceremony for the Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe road project, which is funded by a Chinese government concessional loan, was held in Qacha’s Nek of Lesotho on Thursday.

The project will upgrade the 91-km-long road from gravel to asphalt. The road parallels the Drakensburg mountain range. Developers say due to the complex terrain, the construction process will last 36 months.

The project will cost 1.8 billion Maloti (128 million U.S. dollars). The Chinese government will supply 100 million U.S. dollars of concessional loan.

When the project is completed, it will become a 7-meter-wide double-lane road, shortening the driving time from Mpiti to Sehlabathebe from 4 hours to 1-1.5 hours. It will also promote tourism since it connects Sehlabathebe National park – the only world heritage in Lesotho.

This project will directly create more than 300 employment opportunities through local procurement and contracting.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane said at the ceremony that the project is a symbol of the strong friendship between Lesotho and China. Lesotho is proud of having a real friend like China.

He said the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has become an important driving force for Africa’s development and a model of South-South cooperation. Lesotho is willing to enhance cooperation, mutual understanding and support between the two countries.

Song Changqing, charge d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Lesotho, said the project is one of the achievements of FOCAC Johannesburg summit. In the past three years, China-Lesotho relationship developed rapidly. In the future, with the strengthening of bilateral relations, the two countries will cooperate in more fields.