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Chinese-built bridge making life easier in western Kenyan county

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Green reflectors put on guard-rails along the 100 m bridge in Budalangi, Busia County of western Kenya, create an amazing spectacle as one drives along the facility at night.

The bridge, known as Sigiri, is built by a Chinese company. However, it is not only a marvel at night. During the day, one gets to appreciate the great works that turned it into a wonder in the rural area.

For many years, it took up to a day or even weeks for residents to cross by boat the river that separates Bunyala south and north.

The journey would be longer if it had rained heavily upstream and the water at the lower end would be flowing with greater force, making it difficult for boat operators to sail across.

Some residents would abandon their journeys altogether during such times, others would choose to take a 40 km trip to reach the opposite side while some would risk crossing, leading to disastrous consequences.

Several lives have been lost at the spot. For the residents, however, that is now in the distant past as they enjoy using the 992 million Kenyan shillings (9.72 million U.S. dollars) bridge built by the China Overseas Engineering Group.

Business is thriving on both sides of the bridge: resorts are coming up; shops and eateries have been opened; public transport vehicles and motorbike taxis are having a field day ferrying people and goods from one side to another.

“This is the best thing to have ever happened to Budalangi,” John Oundo, a resident, said on Tuesday.

“I no longer need to plan for days, look at the sky if the rains are coming or tour the river to check the water level before I make decision whether to travel or not,” he added.

Oundo recounted that during the rainy season in March-May and in October-December, most residents never used to journey across the river by boat.

“Ours is a dry region but we are at lower level where the river empties in Lake Victoria. Therefore, whenever it rained upstream heavily, we would suffer downstream. Our lives would come to a standstill because we would not cross the river,” he observed.

At a newly opened resort on the south, business is thriving as the facility opens until late into the night, with a good number of customers coming from the opposite side of the river.

“If it was not for the bridge, we would not be operating this business. No one would have wanted to risk crossing the river when it is raining to come and take a beer on this side,” said Millicent Musazi, an attendant at the club that was opened recently, targeting the Christmas peak.

It takes some three minutes to cross the bridge by vehicle or motorbike and up to 10 minutes for those walking.

For businessman Moses Ajwang’, who runs a shop and motorbike taxi business, that is what has made his business thrive.

“I buy my supplies from Port Victoria town, some 7km away. If something is not in the shop, I just tell one of my motorbike riders to buy it for me and deliver in minutes. That boosts business,” he said.

Once the bridge was completed, the biggest losers turned out to be boat operators who for years had ferried residents from one side of the river to the other side. However, as they say, when one doors closes, another opens.

The youths are now in the sand harvesting business, with the bridge having brought new opportunities as lorries are able to reach the south from the north to buy the much sought-after construction material as real estate booms in the rural area.

The government ratified the use of the bridge in August following its completion and engineers having found it sound.

“The bride is 100 percent complete and it is structurally sound. Both static and dynamic loading tests have given positive results concerning the stability of the bridge,” said Kenya Rural Roads Authority engineer Sylvester Mwamba recently.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi who comes from the region, noted that the bridge would not only uplift the economy of the region but also lives of residents.



Chinese and Kenyan firms hold jobs recruitment fair for college graduates

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- More than 20 Chinese and Kenyan companies on Tuesday held a day-long fair to showcase employment opportunities for local youth who have completed post-secondary education.

The 2018 edition of jobs recruitment fair for Kenyan students was hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi in partnership with Kenya-China Economic and Trade Association (KCETA) and Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Wang Shuwen, a representative of KCETA, said the jobs recruitment fair was in line with ongoing efforts by Chinese enterprises to promote economic empowerment and skills upgrade for local youth.

“The fair is an important step to promote employment of Kenyan graduate students,” said Wang, adding that job creation will cement Kenya-China friendship while promoting economic growth and stability.

Chinese enterprises based in Kenya in late October held a career fair to showcase opportunities for local youth with outstanding skills in competitive disciplines like engineering, ICT and business development.

Wang said that Chinese enterprises are keen to recruit skilled Kenyan youth in line with a localization policy.

“As companies implement localization policies, the proportion of local employees continues to increase. The Kenya-China Economic and Trade Association is willing to provide quality jobs to qualified candidates,” said Wang.

Isaac Mbeche, deputy vice-chancellor in charge of administration and finance at the University of Nairobi, said that employment and skills development fostered by Chinese firms have strengthened friendship between the two long-standing bilateral partners.

“The employment of local talent by Chinese companies will strengthen cooperation and cultural exchanges between our two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Mbeche.


Chinese firms resonate with Kenyan youth in search of career mobility

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Judy Miriti grew up in the central Kenyan highlands where her entrepreneur parents taught her the virtues of fortitude, ambition and passion to facilitate a seamless plunge into adulthood that is laden with uncertainties.

The 26-year-old diploma holder has for the last three years earned a living through sales and marketing but is determined to chart a new career path once she acquires a degree in finance.

Miriti was among hundreds of Kenyan youth who turned up for the jobs recruitment fair organized on Tuesday by the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi  in partnership with Kenya-China Economic and Trade Association (KCETA) and the Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The vivacious marketer told journalists that attending the job fair was a milestone since it enabled her to interact at length with Chinese enterprises based in Kenya and learn about their recruitment model for local skilled workforce.

“It is my first time to attend a career fair organized by Chinese companies and I would like to learn more about the attributes they look for while hiring local employees,” said Miriti.

“There are many people out there who are ready to work for Chinese companies whose reputation for transferring skills to locals is quite inspiring,” she added.

Miriti is currently doing sales and marketing for an indigenous food and beverages company but is open to switch careers that are more structured like administration and finance.

“So far, I have learnt about the thrills and challenges inherent in the marketing profession and would like to transit to formal careers once I am through with my undergraduate degree in finance,” Miriti told journalists.

The third edition of job recruitment fair organized by the Confucius institute attracted skilled and talented youngsters who recently graduated from institutions of higher learning.

Joel Njogu, a 22-year-old ICT major at Nairobi’s Zetech University that has a working relationship with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, said he was convinced that working for a Chinese firm would reward him enormously in terms of income and career growth.

“My friends informed me about this jobs recruitment fair and later learnt about it on our campus social media platforms. I feel honored to engage executives from Chinese companies and I believe they value local talent,” said Njogu.

His course instructor who works for Huawei on part-time basis has been encouraging the ambitious youngster to consider attachment in a Chinese firm where he can hone skills in ICT.

More than 20 Chinese and Kenyan firms participated in the 2018 job recruitment fair held at the courtyard of the University of Nairobi to promote interaction among recent graduates and potential employers.

Wang Shuwen, a representative of KCETA, said that career fairs have become a critical platform for fostering interaction between Chinese enterprises and local youth searching for gainful employment and an opportunity to upgrade skills.

“The fair is an important step to promote employment of Kenyan graduate students,” said Wang, adding that job creation will cement Kenya-China friendship while promoting economic growth and stability.

Isaac Mbeche, deputy vice-chancellor in charge of administration and finance at the university, hailed Chinese companies for their contribution to job creation and skills development in Kenya.

The elegantly decorated exhibition stands belonging to Chinese firms captured the attention of Kenyan college graduates keen to secure employment and become self-reliant.

Julia Wambui, a 21-year-old business administration and information technology major at a private university, said the jobs fair was an inspiration to local youth in their quest to cement ties with Chinese enterprises that have established a large footprint in Kenya.

“A good number of my friends who work for Chinese companies have confided to me that they are contented and have wide latitude to enable them to climb up the career ladder,” said Wambui.

“I believe working for a Chinese firm has many benefits least of all a stable income, training opportunities and exposure,” she added.

Duncan Miranga, a 30-year-old post graduate student in project management, said that he was keen to work for Chinese companies engaged in the implementation of mega infrastructure projects in Kenya.

“I’m aware that Chinese firms prefer hiring people with multiple skills and that is one area I have been working on to boost my employment chances,” said Miranga.

“I would like to work in the construction sector where Chinese companies are strong,” Miranga added.



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