afrol News, 4 October - The government of Ethiopia today confirmed plans "to launch construction of the biggest railway complex" in the country. Some 5,000 kilometres of new railways are to stretch out from Addis Ababa.
An Ethiopian government statement today confirmed authorities stand behind plans by Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) to start constructing the massive new network of railways. Government was to fund the large scheme.
Currently, Ethiopia has only one railway, connecting Addis Ababa with the port in Djibouti. The 681-kilometre railway was inaugurated 100 years ago and remains the lifeline of Ethiopian imports and exports. But no other railway has been built in Ethiopia since.
Since January this year, however, great plans are beginning to concretise in Addis Ababa. Based on the long-term strong growth in the Ethiopian economy, government agreed to ERC plans to seek partners for a massive railway scheme. Chinese, Indian and Russian companies were asked to make bids and a Chinese partner was found.
Government meanwhile sought to fund the giant scheme. The Export and Import Bank of China agreed to fund parts of the Chinese involvement, while the rest was to go through ordinary budgets. Some US$ 336 million are set aside for the project each year in the 2011-15 budgets.
The Ethiopian government confirms agreeing to the timetable of ERC. The railway network is to be constructed in two phases. The first phase, which is to take five years, includes the construction of six railway tracks stretching out from Addis Ababa and is expected to "create job opportunities to more than 300,000 people."
Five of these new lines would be constructed by local contractors. One of the larger lines, stretching 317 kilometres from Addis Ababa to Me'eso town in Afar state, and an extension of the Addis Ababa light train project, would be constructed and co-funded by the Chinese.
According to government, the total scheme includes the construction of a 5,000 kilometres railway complex that aims to link the capital to various regions of the country, stretching out in eight directions.
ERC has yet to disclose the exact destination and routes of the eight new railways. However, ERC Board Chairman Hailemariam Desalegn already has promised that the railway would "help traders and consumers transact swiftly with a reasonable price."
"The railway project is part of the country's five-year transformation plan, designed the government along with the unpredicted expansion of infrastructure, and a boost to 10,000 MW of country's power production from the current, which stands at about 2,000 MW," a government statement added.
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