The road to prosperity

The road to prosperity

MASERU – ’MALIREKO Sehahle, the local chief of Ha-Souru in the Tsoelike constituency could not hide her joy at a ground breaking ceremony of the Ha-Mpiti to Sehlaba-Thebe road.
Construction of the 91-kilometre road by Chinese company, Qingjian Group Construction, has many people in the area excited after years of neglect.
Like many other constituencies in mountainous areas of the country, Tsoelike is in dire need of basic services such as roads.
Travelling from Qacha’s Nek town to Tsoelike constituency – home to Sehlaba-Thebe National Park, the country’s only World Heritage site – has been a struggle because of the poor road infrastructure.

As officials spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony, the 40-year-old chief could not hide her tears of joy.
Sehlahle said she was born and raised in the area and knows all about the adversity and strife that people in the area endure.
Few people dream of buying cars because of the state of the roads, she said.
Many have to cancel any form of travel during the rainy season because even public transport would be unreliable, while criminals made brisk business waylaying people who travelled long, tiresome distances.

“The criminals know that the police can hardly make it to our area,” Sehlahle said.
She said the closest police station is in Qacha’s Neck town and the police usually take long to respond to crime reports.
“Even if we have cases of people fighting or killing one another, it takes the police a long time before coming here,” the chief said.
“The suspects or perpetrators easily escape.”

The poor road infrastructure also discouraged tourists from visiting the Sehlaba-Thebe National Park, said the chief.
“This road is going to bring a lot of changes to us. People are now going to visit the park easily as it is a tourist attraction,” she said.
She said the construction of the road is likely to make life easier while some could now be encouraged to get into business.
Qacha’s Neck District Administrator, Ndluhleli Ndlomose, said once completed, the road will contribute to the growth of the constituency.
Ndlomose said the government plans to construct more roads.

Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tsoelike, described the road construction as a new dawn for the area.
“For a long time, these people would say services are happening in Maseru and in other urban places. Today the sun has shone over Tsoelike and I am very happy that my plans were still taken into consideration,” he said.

Mosisili said the road construction was one of several projects that were in the pipeline when he was ousted from power.
“I left four important projects on my desk and one of them is this one that we are gathered for here today. The other one was to build an eye hospital in Maseru,” he said.
He said he was also planning to generate solar electricity in Mafeteng and to build the Hlotse dam for electricity generation.
Mosisili said the impact of this road to the economy will be “huge” because it will provide access to “the most beautiful place in Lesotho which was declared as a World heritage site”.
“This means this place is on the world’s map,” he said.

Mosisili said the road is going to benefit the entire Basotho nation as investors will rush to build hotels and guest houses for people visiting the national park.
The national park, as Lesotho’s only World Heritage project, is one of the country’s prime tourism destinations but its potential has been affected by poor road infrastructure.
A senior official at the Chinese Embassy in Maseru, Song Changqing, said construction will be funded through a concessional M1.3 billion loan provided by the government of China.
“Thirty percent of the project will be sub-contracted to local companies and lots of building material will be procured locally,” he said, adding that the project will create about 300 direct jobs.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane said the project was one of the many planned by the government.

“Roads are important as they act as the connector to different places. If connection is available, services are also improved and the communities’ everyday life improves,” he said.

Itumeleng Khoete

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