On August 13th 2019, the new Ambassador of China to Sierra Leone, Hu Zhangliang, paid a courtesy call to the Her Worship the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr.
In his opening statement, he commended the Mayor for the improvements he has seen in the city since the last time he was in Freetown, especially in the area of sanitation. He also noted that he was proud that he has been charged with fostering the cordial relationship between Sierra Leone and China and that his visit to the Mayor was to get an idea of how he can support. He expressed his interest in reviving the twinning of Freetown with two cities in China – Guangzhou and Hefei. “Freetown has two sister cities in China. Guangzhou became your sister city in 2012 and Hefei, where I am from, as far back as the 1980s. One of our neighbouring provinces sent a brilliant team of teachers to the Fourah Bay College few years ago and jointly we opened the Confucius Center at Fourah Bay College. There is so much that we can do if we revive this relationship.”
In response, the Mayor thanked the Ambassador for his compliments and expressed her willingness to revive the twinning relationships with the cities of and to collaborate with the Embassy of China in Sierra Leone. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr explained that Freetown had in various ways benefitted from the friendship between the people of Sierra Leone and China. She explained, “Through my interactions with your predecessor, he helped the Transform Freetown Agenda in a practical by providing computers and printers. We also received four garbage trucks that the government of China donated to government of Sierra Leone. For the first time, Freetown City Council has employed 500 women to sweep major streets across the city every morning as part of our efforts to make public space cleaning more consistent. We also have installed street bins in parts of the city. We use those trucks to collect the garbage from the street sweepers and bins every morning.”
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr proceeded to outline specific initiatives the Freetown City Council is undertaking within the Transform Freetown Agenda and encouraged the Ambassador to help in anyway he could. “We have put a lot of emphasis on sanitation over the last year. We have launched Find Me In Freetown, to help residents find waste collectors in their wards. We have also he Cleanest Zone Competition, which aims to trigger positive behaviour when it comes to sanitation by providing communities that improve in cleanliness with infrastructure development. We would be happy to have the people of China join us in our bid to keep Freetown clean, as you have done remarkably.”
At the end of the interaction, the Ambassador of China to Sierra Leone committed to linking Freetown to the city of Hefei for both cities to explore possible areas of collaboration. He also committed to finding ways the Embassy can support the Freetown City Council.