Jul 24 , 2021

Authorities have closed down six prominent hotels situated in the Haya Hulet and Bole areas of Addis Abeba. The establishments are the latest to join a long list of hotels, bars and restaurants, including Harmony and Kaleb hotels, that have been closed in recent weeks by woreda offices on accusations of playing inciting music and partaking in activities disparaging the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), among other things.

Aksum, Debre Damo, Holiday, Negest Saba, Diamond and Addissinia hotels are among the establishments that were closed last week over a variety of allegations, including violating COVID-19 protocols and partaking in other "illegal" activities.

"Our hotel was closed without prior notice or warning. We weren't given a reasonable justification for the closure," said Fekadu Abraham, general manager of Holiday Hotel, following the conclusion of a meeting held to mobilise funding for the Ethiopian National Defense Force, organised by the Ministry of Culture & Tourism at Capital Hotel on July 23, 2021. His hotel was closed on allegations of violating COVID-19 protocols.

During the same meeting, the Assistant Manager of Debre Damo Hotel, located in front of Golagul Tower on Haile Gebreselassie Street, also complained that the establishment had been closed by authorities from the Yeka District Woreda 07 Trade & Industry Bureau.

"We don't know what exactly we violated, though they told us it was closed because of breaches of rules," said the Assistant Manager.

In the Bole area alone, more than 90 hotels, bars, and restaurants have been closed thus far, according to Filimon Gashaw, head of Bole District Woreda 03 Trade Office.

"Some have already been opened while others are still waiting for decisions to be made," he told Fortune.

Diamond and Addissinia hotels are the latest to be closed in Bole District after being accused of funding the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

Daniel Mekonnen, the owner of Diamond Hotel, has also been arrested in connection with the allegations.

Addissinia Hotel, which has a capacity of 58 rooms and employs over 100 people, is located in the Haya Hulet neighbourhood, near Adey Abeba Stadium that is under-construction. The eight-storey Hotel was opened in 2014.

Its employees allege that they were asked to prove to government intelligence officers that the Hotel is under the sole ownership of Addis Gebremariam and not affiliated with any members of the TPLF, according to Asmelash Tesfu, human resources manager at the Hotel.

"It isn't clear why the Hotel had to be closed down and leave all these people without work," he told Fortune. Addissinia was forced to refund reservation bookings as a result of the closure, disclosed the Manager. The hotel rooms go for anywhere between 1,540 to 3,300 Br a night.

Diamond Hotel, which was opened by Daniel Mekonnen three years ago after his return from 12 years of exile, is an 11-storey building on Africa Avenue (Bole Road) that employs 150 people and features 50 rooms. They also had 15 reservations on the books when it was shut down. The prices for a room at the Hotel range from 50 dollars to 300 dollars a night.

The Hotel's employees said they have contacted the Ethiopian Hotel Association and attempted to reach officials at the City Administration but to no avail, according to Ahadu Tesfaye, a manager at Diamond. They are currently collecting signatures for a petition to be submitted to the City's Bureau of Labour & Social Affairs, he disclosed.

These hotels have been closed with reasonable suspicion that they are directly funding forces in Tigray Regional State and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), according to Filimon.

"This is a matter of national security," he added.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 24,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1108]

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