Ssekandi and Yuan Qing KIRYANDONGO, Uganda(Xinhua) --
Thousands of miles away from home, and deep underground in
northern Uganda, 27-year-old Wang Jian every day traverses
tunnels at a construction site under River Nile, the world’s
Fifty-three meters underground, Wang,
a civil engineer from China’s Hunan province, receives situation
reports on the ongoing construction of Karuma Hydro Power Dam,
Africa’s first underground hydro power plant.
Outside the tunnel, Shen Jianjun, 47,
was giving orders and directions to local employees who hope to
draw from his 27 years of experience in civil engineering.
Several hundred meters away is
30-year-old Hou Fuqiang, the chief engineer of the 1.4 billion
U.S. dollar project. Seated in a shared office, Hou scrutinizes
a pile of reports on his table.
Hou, like thousands of other employees
both in and outside the tunnels, are determined to ensure that
the first power be produced by mid next year.
They are among the thousands of
Chinese engineers working to change the face of Africa by
developing the continent’s much-needed infrastructure.
VENTURE INTO AFRICA
When Wang learnt of his assignment to
Africa, he was perturbed, and friends of the young graduate were
quick to remind him of the war and disease there.
Shen’s family had similar concerns.
“My family did not agree with me, they have the impression that
Africa is not very stable, has many diseases and most
importantly it is very far away from home,” Shen said.
“But when I came here I found the
place safe, the local people are friendly and there are a
lot of fruits,” Shen said.
This is a similar situation that many
Chinese engineers went through after being assigned to Africa.
Wang, like Shen and thousands of
others colleagues, had to fight thoughts of leaving loved ones
thousands of miles behind and working in a remote corner of
Indeed some of their fears are not
For Wang, his greatest fear was
malaria, a disease that has largely been wiped out in China, and
indeed it struck six of his colleagues. Some persistently fell
sick until they had to leave the project and return to China.
Despite the many challenges, most
Chinese engineers have decided to stay here until accomplishing
Wang told Xinhua that when he wakes up
every morning, what is on their mind is achieving the goal of
completing the construction on time. To that end, the Chinese
engineers and local employees often work long hours with few
It is the work attitude that many
locals are hailing the Chinese for.
“When the Chinese came, it changed the
attitude of youths here towards work. They used to come out
of bed late but now by dawn, everybody is out working,”
Thomas Belly Okello, a resident of Karuma town, told Xinhua.