Nebiyu Baye right, bureau head of Addis Abeba City Culture & Tourism, escorts Takele Uma, deputy mayor of Addis Abeba, to unveil the cornerstone for the project after announcing the launch of the project.

The Addis Abeba City Administration inaugurated a greenery park project that will devour around six percent of the city’s budget and almost seven percent of the tax revenue it plans to collect this year.

With a 2.5 billion Br budget, the park stretches over 18ha of land from Basha Wolde Chilot to Orma Garage near Sheraton Addis Hotel. The park is part of a 29-billion-Br project to revitalise two rivers that cross the city from Entoto to Qality. The whole project is planned to be completed in three years.

Deputy Mayor Takele Uma launched the project even though it was planned to be launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), who canceled due to a busy schedule.

The construction of the park will include roads, playgrounds, sports fields, shops, bicycle paths and walkways, as well as entertainment facilities, and is slated for completion next year. Its objective is to rehabilitate rivers and riverbanks, mitigate river flooding and erosion and promote a green economy, according to the Deputy Mayor.

The construction and design of the park will be carried out by Geom Luigi Varnero, which won the project after bidding with five foreign construction companies. Varnero, an Italian firm, is known for constructing the eight-story twin buildings of the former Ethiopian Shipping Lines.

The Rivers Basins, Green Areas Development & Agency will hire a supervisor consultant for the pilot project next week. Ten selected local and international companies have been invited to bid, according to Sileshi Degefa (PhD), CEO of the River Basins Agency, which oversees six offices including the River & Riverside Development Project Office and Entoto Tourist Destination Development Project Office.

The two project offices were merged under the agency and will be accountable to the Office of the City Manager. The measure aims at utilising resources without redundancy, according to the Deputy Mayor's announcement.

Initially, the total cost of the revitalising the Riverside Development and Tourist Attraction projects that stretched from Entoto to Sheraton Hotel was estimated to cost 5.6 billion Br, out of which the Riverside project cost was set at 605 million Br.

The Agency was in the process of hiring a company to develop Banteyiketu River, which stretches from Urma Garage to Afincho Ber. But the merger of the two agencies led to the cancellation of the bidding process.

Blue Matrix Consultancy, in association with Image Consultancy, was the initial firm that signed a deal with the Agency in November 2017, to supervise the River Revitalisation Project at a cost of 10.2 million Br.

"The new project uses the previous studies developed as inputs for the preliminary design, but the contractor will develop its own detail design," Sileshi said.

Aziza Abdulfetah, lecturer and chairperson of Landscape Architecture at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction & City Development commends the effort to create public space that requires major commitments.

She suggests open discussion and comments to be held with professionals in the field of architecture and landscaping to enrich the final design.

“The contractor should focus on ways that revive the flow of the rivers by utilising methods that percolate water to the ground and water refills in any open space to preserve the ecology,” Aziza said. “For a sustainable operation of the park, a maintenance plan should be considered from the outset of the project.”

Two months ago, the city administration launched another large scale project - the 50-billion-Br La Gare Eagle Hills Project - to be built in a joint effort by Abu Dhabi-based private real estate company, Eagle Hills, and the City Administration. The project encompasses 36ha of land, three hotels, 4,000 apartments, a mall and entertainment centres.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 23,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 982]

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