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Chinese Construction Firm In Kenya Lauded For Social Responsibility

Chinese engineers and Kenyan employees work at a construction site of the Standard Gauge Railway project, in Taita-Taveta, Kenya, on March 19, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

NAIROBIThe Chinese company building a standard gauge rail in Kenya has launched its first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, with its voluntary activities lauded by the Kenyan government and locals.

Attending the launching ceremony held in the capital Nairobi on Thursday, Principal Secretary of Transport, Irungu Nyakera, said the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) brought lots of benefits to local communities where the rail passes through.

“The efforts by CRBC need to be emulated by other contractors who carry out infrastructure projects in Kenya,” Nyakera said.

CRBC is constructing a 472 km rail in Kenya, which will replace a narrow-gauge track built over a century ago during British colonial rule.

The first phase of the rail runs from the seaport of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, while deals have been recently reached to extend it to the western border town of Malaba.

China funds 90 percent of the 3.8 billion U.S. dollar first phase, with the remainder financed by the Kenyan government.

The CSR report highlights the Chinese company’s voluntary activities to boost sustainable development in Kenya, including environmental protection efforts, charity work, job creation and personnel training.

Nyakera said the report showed that “CRBC is committed to foster a win-win partnership between China and Kenya”.

According to the official, the Chinese company has ensured that at least 40 percent of its supplies are from the locals and over 20,000 locals have been employed.

“So far CRBC has paid out approximately 550 million U.S. dollars to local contractors who have provided employment to 20,000 Kenyans along the SGR route,” Nyakera said.

The figure included about 1,000 individuals at the managerial level, he added.

Since starting the work in October, 2014, CRBC has built schools and water boreholes, and organized health outreach programs for local communities.

Isabella Khaemba (L) works with Chinese engineer Ren Zhichao, in a lab at a site of the Standard Gauge Railway project, in Taita-Taveta, Kenya, on June 30, 2015. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

According to the report, the design of the railway line has ensured the ecosystem along the project is not damaged — land and rivers are not polluted and wildlife habitats are protected.

In February last year, CRBC staff rescued an elephant, which had been trapped in a puddle while drinking water, near the town of Makindu. An excavator was used to dig a gap to let the elephant crawl out.

During the launching ceremony, CRBC chairman, Wen Gang, said the company would ensure the construction work does not have a negative impact on Kenya’s environment.

He also said the company had cooperated and engaged with local communities during the work.

“Environmental protection and conservation has been a key consideration to ensure that residents of where the railway passes through are better-off with the railway line,” Wen said.

Makueni County administrator, John Ndiku, said the local community in Makueni had benefited from the rail project.

“CRBC has ensured that locals have gotten employment opportunities from the project,” he said.

CRBC has also helped the locals tackle the water shortage, which is common in the region. “The Chinese company has agreed to allow the local communities to use water from their boreholes,” Ndiku said.

“We are therefore supportive of the work that CRBC is undertaking,” he said.

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