The nation’s second toll road, Dire Dawa – Dewele, will become operational in two months and is slated for an inauguration ceremony to be attended by high officials.
Constructed for 5.9 billion Br – 85pc financed by China’s EX-IM Bank – the 220Km asphalt road was recently finalised and only awaits the completion of its toll plazas, the entrances and exits where drivers pay their tolls. The road was expected to be inaugurated this weekend by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) but was postponed to an unspecified date due to two other inaugurations, Jimma Industrial Park and Jimma University’s new hospital.
The Ethiopian Road Authority hired China’s CGCOC Group for the construction of the road in October 2014, and the consulting contract was given to Shandong Great Supervision and Consultation Co., Ltd, a Chinese road design and construction consultancy.
CGCOC Group, the company which has previously constructed the Ethiopian Glass Factory and the Nile River Bridge Project and is currently working on the Addis-Africa International Exhibition & Convention Center, executed the projects for a cost of 17 million Br a kilometre.
“We were facing security threats, since the project is found in Somali Regional State,” Mung Jibo, project manager of the road project, told Fortune.
The project faced protests from local residents in the area who claimed that they did not receive proper compensation. The road will connect Ethiopia with Djibouti, along the existing road from Dewele to Djibouti.
Constructed by a workforce of 5,000, the two-way highway has a width of 10m in rural areas and 21.5m in urban areas. The road has a 10cm thickness, crosses over 29 bridges and will have three toll plazas.
The project was expected to be delivered last year, but the Authority extended the delivery date by one year, since the project was modified to make the road thicker, according to Samson Wendimu, communications director of ERA. The government has targeted 220,000Km in road coverage by the end of the second edition of the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP II) in 2020.
The road is also expected to cut in half the current time it takes to travel to Dewele. Currently, trucks travel to Dewele through the Mile-Galafi corridor.
“The new road will reduce the length by 100Km,” said Samson.
After it starts operations, the road will be transferred to the Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprises, established in 2014 as one of the 13 state-owned enterprises operating under the Ministry of Transport. The Enterprise hires over 600 permanent and temporary employees and is tasked with managing toll and express roads.
The first toll road in the nation was inaugurated four years ago and was constructed with 11.2 billion Br. The 31m-wide, six-lane expressway took five years to complete and cut the total travel time from two hours to 45 minutes along the Addis Abeba-Adama corridor.
For the Addis Abeba-Adama toll road, the Enterprise charges 0.66 Br for automobiles, 0.79 Br for buses and 0.92 Br for heavy trucks per kilometre. Since the road commenced operations, a total of 254.5 million vehicles have traveled on it which generated 695 million Br as of the end of October 2018.
The fee for the new toll road has not been set yet, according to Zehara Mohammed, marketing and communications team leader of the Enterprise.
A team composed of the Enterprise, Roads Authority and Transport Ministry are drafting a bill that will set a fee, according to her.
An economist applauded the road project and listed its positive impact on the economy.
“It will motivate the economic activity of the country, since it will play a significant role in the efficiency of the logistics from Djibouti Port to Ethiopia,” said Getachew Yirga, an assistant professor at Bahir Dar University’s College of Business & Economics.
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