On December 30, the sod-turning ceremony of the reconstruction of the Myohaung Officers’ Mess and Single Officers' Quarters with Chinese military aid gratis was held at the Wilberforce Barracks by the Ministry of Defence. H.E. President Julius Maada Bio graced the event. The Chinese Ambassador in Sierra Leone, H.E. Mr. Hu Zhangliang, Hon. Minister of Defence, Rtd. Brig. Kellie Conteh and Hon. Deputy Minister of Defence, Rtd. Col. Muana Massaquoi, other cabinet ministers and senior officials, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Ltd. Gen. Brima Sesay, DCDSs, servicemen and servicewomen of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) as well as members of the fourth estate attended the ceremony.
In his keynote address, President Bio extended his hearty felicitations and fraternal season's greetings to H.E. Xi Jinping and the government and people of the People's Republic of China. He said that Sierra Leone and China had been continuing to pursue a shared future based on mutual respect, mutual benefit, equal footing, common security, fairness and justice and common development ever since the two countries established diplomatic ties. The two countries' mutual and multilateral cooperation have fostered mutual political trust and fruitful cooperation in fields including technical assistance, capacity building, infrastructure and food security etc. He noted that military cooperation between Sierra Leone and China would significantly transform the capacity of the RSLAF. The Myohaung Officers’ Mess and Single Officers' Quarters, once completed, would house both men and women comfortably and increase their morale, President Bio said.
Ambassador Hu said in the statement that the project is the brainchild of H.E. President Bio and the result of friendly discussions between the Chinese side and the Sierra Leonean side. He stressed that the Chinese People's Liberation Army is a genuine friend of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and two armies have maintained a high level of friendship and mutual trust.
The Ambassador congratulated H.E. President Bio and the government and people of Sierra Leone for their commendable achievements acquired in 2019. He noted that 2019 is also a year of great significance for China as it is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party of China successfully held the fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee not long ago, putting forward clearly the overarching goal of upholding and improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China's system and capacity for governance. Ambassador Hu pointed out that although some hostile foreign forces continue to interfere in China's internal affairs, the Chinese government and people under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, have made new big strides in all aspects of development in 2019. He averred that China would continue to work with Sierra Leone to maintain the sound momentum of the vigorous development of China-Sierra Leone friendship and cooperation, and to resist any interruptions or obstructions on the way forward.
After the speeches, H.E. President Bio and Ambassador Hu turned the sod for the project.