A businessman recently came to the public attention after his company won a third bid to deliver 200 buses for public transportation to Addis Abeba City Administration, based on invitations for suppliers city authorities believed to be capable of meeting technical and financially restricted bid requirements. Brighton Trading Plc won the bid for 3.6 billion Br.

Yadeta Juneydi Bekri, a major khat exporter, is a significant shareholder of Brighton Trading. A resident of the United Kingdom for many years, Yadeta has been bestowed the platinum taxpayer status awarded by President Sahleworq Zewde in 2022. His company ranked 20th highest taxpayer in the country, outperforming corporates such as Derba Cement and top private commercial banks such as Cooperative Bank of Oromia (COOP) and Hibret Bank.

Yadeta holds a vehicle import license registered under the Public Procurement & Property Authority. He is also in the property development market, with Brighton Real Estate building homes in Adama town, 90Km east of the capital. Notably, a now-dissolved company in Brighton, UK, named ‘Laga Kosum Beauty Products’, has the name “Yadeta Juneydi Bekri” registered as secretary between 2008-2010.

Three weeks ago, Yadeta was awarded a plaque of appreciation by Mayor Adanech Abiebie, who expressed gratitude to Brighton Trading on her Twitter posts.

However, the procurement of the 200 buses has stirred controversy, with the price of each bus close to 19 million Br, raising eyebrows. The bureaus responsible for the procurement have attempted to curb public fury through public relations charm-offensive in state-owned media outlets.

The inclusion of these buses into the city’s fleet by Sheger Bus company was preceded by three auction bids over two years, disclosed Mengistu Atnafu, manager of the Public Procurement Authority. The Addis Abeba Transport Bureau has been working to deliver up to 2,000 buses from the state-owned Bishoftu Automotive Engineering, according to the Bureau’s head, Mitiku Asmare.

The new buses are fitted with 10 cameras each and are expected to be integrated into the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) on which the transport bureaus work.

Despite a fleet of 650 Anbessa buses and over 8,000 minibuses operating in the capital, long queues for transportation are a common sight in the streets. With the gradual removal of fuel subsidies, increasing population numbers and the 30-year ambition of the Ministry of Transport & Logistics, federal authorities have set the stage for further investment in public buses. Over 3,000 more buses are needed to meet the capital’s demand for public transport which stands at 54pc.

Nonetheless, Ethiopia’s foreign currency squeeze has been a major cause of the prolonged bidding process, with bus suppliers demanding to be paid in foreign currency.

An international bid two years ago, which saw one company emerge as the winner for 17 million Br for a bus, was suspended due to its high offer. A year later, another bid was floated, this time a national bid, due to the inability of the City Administration to find the foreign currency to pay international companies that may win and require payment in foreign currency.

Nine domestic companies bought the bid documents; Woreta Trading Plc met the technical requirements for 13.8 million Br. However, Woreta Trading managers also wanted the City Administration to facilitate foreign currency for the procurement, leading to the termination of the bid, according to officials of the Procurement Authority.

A final restricted bid was offered late last year. Eight domestic companies received invitation letters advising them that payment would be paid in the local currency if they met the technical standards. Three companies responded to the invitation letter, with Yadeta Juneydi Bekri’s company, Brighton Trading, winning against Belayneh Kindie and Elias Sani Omer, bagging the contract for 18.9 million Br and the runner-up putting up 22 million Br.


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