(Left to right) Liu Yu, economic and commercial counsellor at the embassy of China, Takele Uma, mayor of Addis Abeba and Ahmed Shide, minister of Finance, and  Tan Jian, Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, met at the inauguration of the Puskin Square to Gotera road  project around Sarbet  on October 1, 2019.

The Addis Abeba City Roads Authority kicked off the construction of the city's most expensive road project to date, which has a price tag of 395 million Br a kilometre.

Funded by China, the 3.8Km road stretches from Pushkin Square to Gotera Interchange in Nifas Silk Laphto District. The road project commenced with a groundbreaking ceremony that was attended by Deputy Mayor Takele Uma, Ahmed Shide, minister of Finance, Tan Jian, Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, and Moges Tibebu, director-general of the Roads Authority.

Expected to cost over 1.5 billion Br, the construction of the road, which is located in the central-western part of the city, is financed by the Agency for International Economic Cooperation within China's Ministry of Commerce. The loan from the Chinese government is interest-free.

Before the new project, the Qality Ring & Interchange, Qality Ring Road to Qilinto and Haile Garment to Jemo Square, were the top three most expensive road projects, having cost 222.7 million Br, 219.8 million Br and 118.7 million Br a kilometre, respectively.

China First Highway Engineering Group Co Ltd, a subsidiary of CCCC that has been in business since 1963, was awarded the contract for the road, which will have a 30m to 45m width. China First Highway operates with 220,000 employees and has an annual turnover of 14 billion dollars.

The project also includes the construction of a two-lane 320m tunnel, two interchanges and a bus rapid transit lane. It is expected to serve vehicles flowing to and from the Kirkos, Gotera, Goffa, SarBet, Mexico and Qera areas.

It has three segments: the road from Pushkin Square to the Gotera Interchange section stretches to 2.3Km and has two feeder roads, Mauritius Street and Tanzania Street, both having a total length of 1.5Km.

"The main aim of the project is to reduce the traffic congestion in the city," said Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia.

Best Consulting Engineers Plc, a local consulting firm, will oversee the construction of the road project, which is expected to be completed in two and a half years.

China First Highway and the Addis Abeba Roads Authority signed an agreement on July 18, 2019, and the Authority has completed 85pc of the right-of-way work.

The project will create jobs for 800 people, according to Lee Xiao, deputy manager of China First Highway, a company that was previously awarded the upgrade contract of Dessie-Kutaber-Tenta road project and design and construction of a road in the Omo area stretching to a sugar mill plant with a total value of 134.6 million dollars.

Abebe Dinku, professor of civil engineering and chair of construction materials & management at Addis Abeba University, commented that there should be proper planning to avoid delays with the project.

"Design and approvals, as well as right-off-way work, should be completed in line with the schedule to avoid delays," he said.

Having a total of 6,000Km of roads, Addis Abeba has less than 20pc of roads covered in asphalt, according to data from the city's Roads Authority.

In the last fiscal year, the Authority constructed 33Km of roads on average having 20m-30m widths for an expenditure of 1.7 billion Br. For the current fiscal year, the Authority plans to build 20 new road projects, two of which have already commenced.

On the same date the project was launched, the company's other project, worth 50 million dollars, was launched in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). The Addis Abeba Riverside Development project includes the construction of a central square on 48ha of land and the rehabilitation and treatment of 12Km of a river that runs from Entoto mountain to Peacock Park. The government of China fully financed this project.

The relationship between the two countries dates back for almost half a century, and China has financed major projects in Ethiopia including roads and railways, with many Chinese companies also having a strong presence here due to winning contracts to build these Chinese financed projects.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 05,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1014]

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