The project to restore the riverbank of Kebena moves closer to realisation, with design firms bidding to win a contract for consultancy service.

Ten companies have submitted expressions of interest to design and supervise a 5.4Km riverbank from Entoto to the German Embassy along the Kebena River in northern Addis Abeba. The two-year project for the beautification and restoration of the riverside will be carried out with five million euros obtained as part of a grant from the Italian government a year ago. The grant will be disbursed in three phases, and 10pc has already been made.

The next disbursement will be made after the Bureau selects the consultant and a contractor, disclosed Tages Gebrekristos, project manager at the Urban Beautification & Green Development Bureau. The contract for design and consultancy services will be awarded when the second part of the selection process, a request for proposal, is completed in April this year, according to Tages.

The Bureau is floating an international tender to hire a contractor, according to Tages. His office, however, has declined to disclose the identities of the companies that have expressed interest in the project.

The project to rehabilitate the Kebena River is part of the Beautifying Sheger Project launched in 2018, which officials hope will transform Addis Abeba into a popular destination for urban tourists. Other features of the project include the Friendship Square Park, a museum and the rehabilitation and treatment of 54Km of riverbanks along the capital's two main waterways. The cost of the ambitious project was initially estimated at a whopping one billion dollars.

In February 2019, Geom Luigi Varnero was awarded a contract to construct Friendship Park on 27hct of land from Basha Wolde Chilot to Orma Garage, past the Sheraton Addis Hotel. Later on, the project was given to First Highway Engineering Group, a behemoth China Communications Construction Corporation subsidiary. Built at an estimated 50 million dollars, the Chinese government-financed Friendship Square Park was completed last year.

The Chinese Jiangsu Nantong Sanjian Construction Group started the second phase of the Beautifying Sheger project in August last year. It comprises the construction of a museum dedicated to science and technology on 18hct of land adjacent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters, on Menelik II Avenue. The contractor is expected to wrap up the project this year.

Though many laud the efforts to spruce up the capital, the initiative comes at a cost to others. The Kebena River project requires to relocate thousands to make way.

"Homes and other structures located within a 20-metre radius of the riverside will be relocated,” said Endeshaw Ketema, deputy head of the Bureau.

How many families will be affected by the relocation remains unclear. City authorities say this will be determined after the design work is completed, although the implementation of the whole project was initially expected to cause the relocation of over 10,000 residents.

Tulu Tola (PhD), who teaches environmental science and engineering at Kotebe Metropolitan University, says establishing a 20-meter radius buffer zone along the riverbank is reasonable to protect the river`s habitat. The water that flows from the peak of Entoto Mountain brings a large volume of soil and liquid and solid waste, which are deposited on the riverbank, according to Tulu.

"Environmental protection works are necessary to keep the river clean," he said.

The other alternative, Tulu says, is installing water treatment plants, which is expensive for developing countries like Ethiopia.

The authorities are searching for financing for the rehabilitation works on the rest of the Kebena River that joins the Beseka River. They estimate it will cost another 10 million dollars.

“We're having talks with Korea International Cooperation Agency to finance the remaining part of the project," Endeshaw told Fortune.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 22,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1134]

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