THE Chinese government has pledged an additional M400 million to bring its total funding commitment for the construction of the Maseru Hospital and Eye Clinic to M800 million.
The construction of the new health facility which is expected to benefit at least 400 000 people in Maseru and other districts is set to begin before the end of this year.
China initially pledged M400 million when the two governments signed a funding agreement in December 2017 but the Asian economic giant has since resolved to double the funding commitment as part of its improved development assistance package to Lesotho.
Lesotho is one of several African countries that are benefiting from Chinese development assistance in terms of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) whose last summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015 with the next one set for September this year in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
China has contributed enormously to Lesotho’s infrastructure development, including the Manthabiseng National Convention Centre, the Parliament, the State Library and Archive, the China-Lesotho Friendship Middle School at Thuathe and the new State House.
Speaking at the recent signing ceremony for the additional funding in Maseru, the Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua, said it was important for his government to invest more funds in the proposed health facility as it would cater for at least 400 000 people after its completion.
“Three months ago we signed the first agreement for RMB Yuan 200 million (M400 million) but then after several considerations we have had to review the amount to RMB Yuan 400 million which is about M800 million,” Dr Xianghua said.
“It is crucial to construct the hospital as it will benefit more than 400 000 people not only in Maseru but the neighbouring districts as well. It will be a specialised hospital with high quality health services which will also serve as a training centre for the doctors.”
For his part, Lesotho’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Lesego Makgothi, who signed the new agreement on behalf of the government, said once completed, the new hospital would reduce the strain on the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital and mitigate many of the challenges faced by the country’s health sector.
“This is a priority project for the government as it will provide first class health services to the residents of Maseru and other districts while reducing the burden on the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital which is also a referral hospital.
“The generosity of the government and the people of China towards Lesotho which is evident in a several projects will forever be remembered. Their unreserved support for Lesotho’s national developmental efforts is a symbol of the true friendship that exists between our sister countries and their people.”
Mr Makgothi also took the opportunity to express the government’s support for the ‘One China Policy’ which asserts that there is only one country called China despite the existence of two countries using the name, China. There is currently the People’s Republic of China (commonly referred to as just China) whose capital is Beijing and the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan.
The People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
“Lesotho wishes to reaffirm its support for the One China Policy and to express our hope that all the remaining territories of the People’s Republic of China will be re-integrated into the mainland so that the Chinese people will prosper as a single homogenous nation,” Mr Makgothi said.