The Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprise is in charge of the toll stations on the two expressways in the country. It collected 375 million Br in toll fees last year.

An intelligent transportation system that monitors tolling on the newly constructed expressways is on the way, developed by the Ethiopian Roads Administration (ERA).

The Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) will be designed to integrate toll collection systems, speed control, camera surveillance, and detecting accidents, disclosed Mohammed Abdurahman, deputy director of construction project management at the Administration. The system in development is hoped to upgrade to the one in use on both the Addis Abeba-Adama and Modjo-Hawassa expressways, which only offers features for fee collections. Toll fees are collected in cash.

The ITS would be integrated with the banking system to allow drivers to pay electronically, using cards or other forms of digital payment at toll gates, says Mohammed. It will also come equipped with a traffic surveillance mechanism that could be used to keep track of traffic congestion and accidents. The data will be used to make timely decisions by a control centre, says Mohammed. This could include broadcasting messages to travellers in the case of accidents.

The ERA has finalised the architectural layout and system design with the support of the World Bank. A Spanish consulting firm, IDOM, was hired in 2019, and a hiring process for a company to install the system will begin once the World Bank gives the go-ahead, disclosed Mohammed.

As cities grow and transport flow increases, managing transport systems manually becomes unsustainable, says Engida Tadie, a lecturer at the department of urban transport management of Kotebe Metropolitan University. Manual operations are faulty as the operator may lack knowledge and is prone to fatigue.

“The intelligent system is the only viable option,” said Engida.

The efficiency of the system has been demonstrated in other countries. It is about time to introduce it as there are only two expressways available, making it easier to manage, according to Engida.

The Addis-Adama Expressway was the first toll road in the country, opened for traffic seven years ago. The construction was financed by a 350 million dollar loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and 26 million dollars from the federal government. The intelligent system is also part of the Modjo-Hawassa expressway project, which is under construction with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the export and imports banks of China and South Korea.

Initially, the plan was to build the road as a freeway, but this changed after considering the scale of the investment, Yetmgeta Asrat, deputy head of the ERA, told Fortune.

"It took a lot of work to change it to a toll road,” he said.

The 210Km segment of the expressway from Modjo to Batu (Ziway) was opened for traffic two months ago. The 57Km road from Batu to Arsi Negele is under construction with a 370 million dollar concessional loan from the World Bank; it is 30pc completed, according to ERA officials. The last segment of 57Km – from Arsi Negele to Hawassa – is under construction by the Chinese Railway with 196 million dollars financing secured from the Export-Import Bank of China. However, the government is covering costs while awaiting disbursement following China's review of Ethiopia's debt standing.

The Modjo-Batu expressway, designed to accommodate over 10,000 vehicles a day, is yet to receive a tolling system from the contractor. Chinese Railway, one of the state-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) subsidiaries, did the construction but has not provided a tolling system as it was not included in the original contract.

For the past few weeks, the Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprise has been using the same system installed on the Addis-Adama expressway.

"We were collecting toll fees manually at the beginning," says Mustafa Abasimel, general manager of the Enterprise.

The Enterprise collected 375 million Br in toll fees last year.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 04,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1127]

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