Thousands displaced by large state projects have made the mountainous area behind Ararat Hotel their new home after being given substitute plots, financial compensation and title deeds by the Addis Abeba City Administration as part of a resettlement package.

The new settlement area is full of freshly glistening metal sheets, hoards of men and women carrying jerry cans and dispersed plots of land marked by wooden poles.

The urbanites who have had their property expropriated around Yeka Mikael, Piassa, Kebele 06 and Shola area have been re-settled to Woreda 09 around the Kotebe area, nearly 300 meters from the main road.

The City Administration has provided some re-settlers with new lease agreements under the Yeka District and financial compensations as high as five million Birr.

According to the communications bureau of the Yeka District, full information has yet to be compiled. However, sources told Fortune that the provision of new lease agreements for re-settlers is still ongoing.

Most of the new settlers have been relocated as they were in the way of the newly constructed road leading to the "Chaka House Project" spearheaded by the Prime Minister's Office that stretches from Megnagna to the Yeka mountains.

The "Chaka House" is a satellite city passion project of the Prime Minister held in close guard sitting on a little over 500hct. It is set to contain artificial lakes, basketball courts, football fields and lush greenery.

The 2019 proclamation on land expropriation for public use grants the city and district powers to evacuate and take over land deemed for public use, relaying that the amount of compensation for the property on the land shall cover the cost of replacing the property anew.

Financial compensation, along with new land was given to homeowners who have legitimate title rights. Residents who did not have formal land-holding rights but rather an incomplete land-holding claim also received new plots of land amounting to 75sqm without financial compensation.

Homeowners with land title rights received the new property and compensation in direct proportion to the total area that they had to forego with some being given up to 500 sqm plots.

The residents told Fortune that an equivalent title to the one they had foregone was being given to them in the new settlement.

Mesfin is a resident of the Kotebe area working as a broker. He is quite happy with the place chosen for the hundreds of new settlers as the property value for homes in the area is already going up.

"It was just a jungle a few months ago," he told Fortune.

He expects settlers who have obtained sizeable compensations from the government to sell as homes with legal title deeds are in high demand.

Residents that received their land lease said they are stalling on constructing permanent homes with inputs such as concrete and cement until zonal construction design standards are provided and approved by the district.

Fikerte, a mother of two boys who had been relocated from the Yeka Mikael area, seems quite grateful and content with the replacement as she feared the compensatory land might not have been provided. She has used the 75sqm plot given to her for building three rooms out of corrugated iron sheets and wood.

"We consider ourselves lucky," said a man who was relocated from the Shola area. He expressed relief that a fate similar to homeowners around the periphery of the capital had not befallen him. The demolition of illegal settlements on the outskirts of the capital in the last few months has created public fury as images of the homes being razed circulated on social media.

They gain water through public taps charging two Birr for a five-litre jerrycan and an extra 15 Br for hauling to their homes. While they have been told by officials that water and electricity are underway, having to climb up and down the steep mountain to fill up on water has become a source of frustration. They are opting to access the grid extended from homeowners who have lived in the area for years.

"I'm paying 100 Br per lamp," one resident told Fortune.

The City Administration has informed the residents that paved roads would soon connect the settlement area to the main road.

Despite a letter suggesting that they had a 120-day period before they had to leave, most were relocated earlier. They expressed that a little more time would have prepared them for the change.

"They should have used the time to build water and electric infrastructure," said another new settlement resident who seeks anonymity not to jeopardize the newfound title.

Waktola Chachi, a legal expert, says the 2019 proclamation provides a more comprehensive compensation modality with a clear definition of what entails expropriation, whether it is for development or business.

"The evaluation of property has improved since the proclamation, "he told Fortune.


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