Fortune News | Oct 11,2020
The rehabilitation and restoration project of the Kebena River has been discontinued for four months following the delay of a 3.5 million euro disbursement from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).
The riverbank stretching 5.4Km from Entoto to the German Embassy along the Kebena River north of the capital was planned to be carried out with five million euros obtained as part of a grant from the Italian government disbursed in three phases, with the first 10pc payment already made. According to officials, the second phase was planned to be disbursed following the selection of a consultant and a contractor.
The Addis Abeba Urban Beautification & Green Development Bureau, under Tsigereda Worku, awarded the contract to Aser Construction Plc for 2.9 million euros in August after floating an international tender that included a feasibility study, design and construction.
Managers at the construction company confirmed they had not received a specific date or details on how to commence construction despite getting the contract, fearing the project might slip out of their hands.
Established in 2009, Aser has worked on several large-scale projects, including the two phases of Bole International Airport Expansion, Eastern Industry Zone and Bole Ring Road utility line construction. Most of the projects were outsourced contracts from the China Road & Bridge Corporation.
"We are waiting for a green light from the Bureau," said an executive that requested anonymity.
The Project Manager at the Bureau, Tages Gebrekristos, claims the Agency believes the plan of action from the Bureau had taken too long. He reasoned that most project delays result from unforeseen setbacks and not due to the inefficacy of administrators, recalling the Bekeyatu Riverside project stretching 27Km that was delayed for two years due to relocation disputes.
“The war and pandemic had caused the delay on our side,” said Tages.
Following the peace agreement, the project manager expects good news in the coming weeks.
The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), headquartered in Rome, was established in 2016 to align Italy with its global partners through development. It runs a base in Addis Abeba and 20 field offices worldwide for assessing local needs and implementing development initiatives.
Arianna Catalano, the deputy head of mission at the Italian Embassy in Addis Abeba, said the global pandemic prevented the project from proceeding as intended, primarily the disbursement of funds.
"We are now ready to go ahead with the disbursement," she said.
The riverside rehabilitation is part of the Beautifying Sheger Project, launched four years ago, which officials hope will transform Addis Abeba into a popular destination for urban tourists. It comprises the rehabilitation and treatment of riverbanks along the capital's two main waterways.
People close to the project revealed that households within a 20-meter radius of the riverside would be relocated following the completion of design work. How many families will be affected by the relocation remains unclear, although the implementation of the whole project was initially expected to cause the relocation of over 10,000 residents.
The former project engineer for Giabo Irrigation Dam, Abdulfetah Tiju, observed that international donors release funds when projects align with their agendas.
"They only fund when it suits them," he said.
The consultancy contract was awarded to At-Con Engineering & Architectural Consultancy with 13 million Br. It has consulted on over 30 projects, mainly renovating green areas and public parks such as the 16,000 sqm Akaki Park and the restoration of Ambassador Park with 42 million Br.
Awet Gebreyesus, deputy manager, is optimistic the project will restart soon.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated from its original version on basis of clarification from the Italian Embassy on a few elements.
The global pandemic impacted the decision to delay disbursement of funds.
Arianna Catalano is a deputy head of mission at the Italian Embassy in Addis Abeba.
This article was updated on January 25 2023.
PUBLISHED ON Jan 14,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1185]
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