Editorial | Aug 22,2020
The Park inside the Grand Place, which has been viewed as the epicentre of political power, will be open to the general public and tourists as of Monday, October 14, 2019.
Under construction since last January, Unity Park was inaugurated at the end of last week in the presence of over 500 guests including regional leaders. Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Somalia's President Mohammed Abdulahi Mohammed, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attended the inauguration ceremony.
Built for five billion Birr secured from an external donation, the Park has six destinations: a green area; a black-maned Lion Zoo; a traditional garden that will have over 43 indigenous plants; regional states pavilion, where regional states will display their cultural and historical assets; historical buildings; and a zoo, which will have 46 types of species and 312 individual animals.
Five of the destinations are ready for tourists, while the sixth site - the zoo - is expected to be completed this December, according to Tamrat Haile (PhD), coordinator of the Park, which on average takes two and a half hours for a tour.
The Park will be open to the public starting from Monday, October 14, 2019.
Built under Emperor Menelik II over 130 years ago, the Palace rests on 40ha and was renovated by Geom Luigi Varnero two years ago. Varnero renovated seven buildings located inside the Palace. The Park sprawls across half of the total area of the Palace.
The renovation of the Palace included the Banquet Hall, aka Gibir Adarash, the Throne House, the octagonal structure, Menelik Palace Complex and residences of former heads of state from Emperor Menelik II until former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
To preserve the original nature and touch of the Park, a team of experts was formed from the Office of the Prime Minister and Authority for Research & Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Ahead of the renovation, the team conducted an assessment, which was reviewed by six university lecturers.
The team, which started the study two years ago, used literature and documents that have been recorded since 1968, as well as different books written by Fikreselassie Wogderes, Geset Techane and Merse Hazen Wolde Qirqos as reference.
A sculpture sits at Unity Park inside the National Palace's compound in Arat Kilo.
The experts also used photos that showed the interior of the place, interviewed eyewitnesses and those who were imprisoned in the basement of the Banquet Hall, which was built to be used as a store house for Tej, mead or wine honey, and meals.
For the renovation and construction of the facilities, about six local and international companies took part in the process. Meskerem Assegued and Elias Sime, founders of Zoma Museum, and the Dubai-based company ALEC Engineering & Contracting LLC are among the companies that worked on the Park, which is expected to be visited by 1,000 to 1,500 people a day.
"It symbolises our ability to come together for a common goal and cross the finish line by creating exquisite lasting prints of our collective worth," reads a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Along with renovating the buildings and construction of the new destinations, the project includes the electric and sewerage system installation and construction of toilets.
To visit the park, local people will pay 200 Br for a regular visit and 1,000 Birr for VIP tickets. Non-national regular and VIP visitors will pay 20 dollars and 50 dollars, respectively. To be administered by Unity Park, the revenues generated from visitors will be used for administrative expenses, infrastructure development and maintenance and renovation work.
For the visitors, the Park has prepared four types of payment mechanisms. Visitors can buy tickets through text messages, online from the website of the Park, via debit card and at the gate of the park at point of sale machines (PoS).
About 10 cafe and fast-food restaurants reside in the Park after being selected through a bidding process. Bilo’s Pastry, Kaldis Coffee and Fresh Corner are among the businesses that will serve visitors on the premises.
The Park, which is dominated by blue colour, also features a 174m long tunnel. It is also equipped with over 1,000 items that have been used during the monarchial period. Out of the total items, 346 of them were obtained from the Authority, which received them from the Palace administration during the Dergueregime.
After it was inaugurated last Thursday, the Park held open hours between 10:00am and 4:00pm and was visited by members of the Defence Forces, the police, children, people with disabilities, older people and the homeless.
PUBLISHED ON Oct 12,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1015]
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