The service area, sprawled over 40,000sqm land, consist of a gas station, motel, and a retail area.

Prospective investors will soon lease a service area to host a gas station, retail centre, parking space, motel and restaurant, along the Tulu Dimtu-Adama Expressway.

Executives of the Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprise are gearing up to launch a bid for the lease of the service area, which is under construction with a budget of 60 million Br. Sprawled on 40,000sqm of land, the largest tract of the service area is designated to the motel, which will have the capacity to accommodate 40 rooms. The lot is designed to let 200 vehicles park. The Enterprise, incorporated as a public enterprise seven years ago to manage highways along with two expressways, attempted to lease the space through a bid floated four months ago, though no bidders showed up.

"Our last attempt failed due to the incomplete construction works," said Mustafa Kedir, director of the Enterprise.

Mustafa anticipates bidders will show up this time around.

Executives of the Enterprise hope that the service area will contribute to boosting annual income, which stood at 382 million Br last year.

The facility under construction is hoped to generate additional revenues for the Enterprise, which rents spaces for commercial displays on overpasses, bridges, tollgates and booths. Last year, it collected seven million Birr from commercial displays.

The 84.7Km Tulu Dimtu-Adama Expressway passes through three major towns in Oromia Regional State, including Bishoftu and Modjo. Opened for traffic in 2014, it was built by the state-owned Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC) at the cost of 11.2 billion Br, more than half of which was covered by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. The federal government, which has agreed to service the debt in two decades, covered 43pc of the cost.

The service area under construction is 29Km from entry to the tollway, near the town of Bishoftu.

The construction is now 70pc completed, while the civil work, which was only partially done when the last tender was floated, has been finalised, with finishing works also underway. Seid Ahmed Nur, a grade-one contractor operating for nearly three decades, is expected to deliver the project in the next three months.

Ephrem Tesfaye, a board member of the Association of Petroleum Dealers, sees the service area as ideally located for a gas station, indicating traffic volume on the expressway growing by 10pc annually to 27,000 a day last year.

Ephrem believes the first bid was unsuccessful due to a lack of promotional work on the side of the Enterprise.

"Investors must have been unaware," Ephrem told Fortune.

According to Kassahun Gofe, a state minister for Transport, similar service areas elsewhere are also in the works. He disclosed that a 10,000sqm plot of land had been designated to develop service stations along the Modjo-Hawassa Expressway. The first half of this road, from Modjo to Batu, was opened to traffic a few weeks ago.

"We're outsourcing the area so that it won't have to be built with public funds," said Kassahun.

Investment experts see the move by the Enterprise as a step in the right direction, though they criticise it for taking so long.

It is a belated decision, according to Addis Alemayehu, an investment consultant and the chairperson of Kazana Group, which claims to hold a portfolio of over 13 companies operating in a diverse array of industries and sectors.

"It's also a matter of safety as it provides a place for travellers on long journeys to rest," Addis said.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 02,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1118]

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