Parliament yet to give final say for relatively expensive project
The Prime Minister's Office has given the green light for a 1.7 billion Br soft loan from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China for water wells that the Addis Abeba Water & Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) is to dig in Akaki; Parliament is yet to give final approval.
The project involves 24 wells for sourcing 70,000 cubic metres of water a day. Expecting a 25pc failure, the project has planned six additional wells.
The AAWSA inaugurated, in March 2012, a similar project near Gelan, 29km east of the Capital, where 15 wells were dug to generate 73,000 cubic metres of water. The Gelan Project was only 584 million Br, exactly a third of the cost of the new Akaki Project, which will have only nine more wells but give 3,000 cubic metres less water a day.
Inflation, quality, risk factors, and time were the major reasons given to the Prime Minister for the higher price, according to Asegid Getachew, the general manager of the AAWSA.
An expert in the sector, a hydrologist for 25 years, argues otherwise. The cost of the new wells is inflated, he claims, because the contract was awarded to the Chinese Overseas Construction Group Company (CGC) uncompetitively because the loan comes from China.
"This is really overblown beyond the current inflated prices, and I do not accept the reasons of inflation and quality," he said.
The 25pc risk rate, which forced the AAWSA to plan six additional wells for the contingency of failure by any of the 24 wells, could have been reduced by a better study to identify areas with potentially rich sources of underground water, he said.
"It is obvious how much it costs," he said. "This is not right."
The AAWSA did undertake a good study, but it does not rule out the possibility of the failure of any of the wells, which might give less water than intended, according to Asegid.
The loan has been referred to the Parliament's Budget & Finance Standing Committee, which will then refer it to members of Parliament for the final approval. The project will begin after that with intended completion in two year's time. The loan is payable in 20 years at a two per cent rate.
The wells which has five reservoirs will supply water within 21km of Akaki, covering Mekanisa, Gelan, Lebu, and Alem Bank areas. The Gelan Project, is already supplying areas between Gelan and Goterra.
The AAWSA has, so far, achieved 93pc coverage in the city from sources at Dire, Gefersa, and Legedadi, which provide 1,300 cubic metres, 30,000 cubic metres, and 150,000 cubic metres, daily. The existing wells at Akaki provide 146,000 cubic metres, daily.