The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) signed a 28.4 billion Br contract with Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC) for the construction of a 268km railway from Mekele, 780km north of Addis Abeba, to Harragebia Woldia, 521km north of Addis Abeba, on Friday, June 22, 2012.
CCCC, which has been operational in Ethiopia since 1998, was selected out of 28 companies from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Turkey, which were considered for the entire 4,744km national railway network. Other companies were selected at the same time on December 13 for other segments of the network, but the Corporation has refused to disclose them until the signing of the contracts.
To date, three other contracts have been signed. The China Railway Euryan Engineering Group (CREEG) has been signed on for the 317km segment from Sebeta (just west of Addis Abeba) to Meiso, 302km east of the capital, and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for the 339km segment from Meiso through Dire Dawa to Dewale, on the border with Djibouti.
Another Chinese company, China Railway Group, has also been awarded the Hayat-Meskel Square segment of the light rail project in Addis Abeba.
The entire nationwide network is projected to cost 173.6 billion Br.
The Mekele to Harragebia Project is part of the line from Mekele to the Port of Tadjoura, Djibouti. The Corporation will sign another contract for the Harragebia-Awash segment sometime this week, according to Getachew Betru (Eng), the general manager of the ERC. Both construction projects will begin soon after the agreements are signed, with the first expected in four weeks' time.
"This is our plan, to finish early, as much as possible, before the end of the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP)," Getachew said. "That is why we are giving the project to three different contractors, to use the time well and minimise the burden, and the local companies will get the subcontracts with contractors to do all of the civil works of the project."
The Mekele to Harragebia segment involves several bridges that measure one kilometre to 29km long, as high as 19 metres above the ground, according to Getachew.