Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

7 January 2013

Ethiopia: Corporation Claims Railway On Schedule

Complex Construction Priority in First Phase, 20pc of Project Completed

Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) accomplished just 20pc of the construction of the Addis Abeba Light Railway Transit (LRT), out of the 40pc projected for the year.

Representatives of the Corporation and CREC, the Chinese company undertaking the construction, told journalists on Thursday, January 3, 2013 that the project will be completed on schedule.

The critical sites, that would take the most time, were included in the first phase of the construction, according to Debo Tunka, deputy chief executive officer of the infrastructure division, at ERC. Tracks that will go underground and on overpasses are the project's priority in the first phase, with ground level tracks to follow later.

"Unless things beyond our control occur, we are confident that the project will be completed on schedule," Debo said.

The track will go underground, fromMenelik SquaretoHabtegiorgisBridge; earth moving, clearing and leveling are halfway completed at this site, according to Debo.

Work is now stalled here, because the Abuna Petros roundabout is currently being used as an alternative pass, for both cars and pedestrians.

"The construction company is asking to close the road and move the construction forward," said Eyob Tessema, a resident engineer of the consulting company, Swedish National Road Consulting, SweRoad.

"We will close the roundabout soon after discussing additional alternative roads for drivers, with the city road authority," he said.

The fact that labourers were not wearing helmets and gloves, whilst working, was observed by Fortune, during the tour organised for journalists, It is recommended for all workers in construction to be aware of safety, says Behailu Sintayehu, the project manager at ERC. However, the workers choose not to wear these safety materials, because they want to work freely, he claimed.

Workers also complained that the construction company is not paying their salary regularly.

"Our agreement is to be paid every two weeks but they do not give us fully," says one of the daily workers on the site.

That complaint had not come to the Agency, according to Behailu, for, if it had, the Agency would have talked with the employee regarding the problem. The workers, he said, were hired by the construction company or by private agencies.

At Meskel Square, the railway construction is facing a problem, because neither the Addis Abeba Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA), nor ethio-telecom have relocated their pipes and fibres, and thus construction has had to take place on top of them.

"Before the construction had begun, we sent the design to all stakeholders to move their properties," said Behailu.

The metropolitan electric railway, which has a total length of 34.35Km, has two lines; a 16.9Km section going from North to south, and a 17.35Km section going from east to west. The two sections join for 2.7Kms.

The LRT will have a total of 41 cars, each with the capacity to carry 286 passengers at a time. This will enable the light rail transit to provide transportation to 15,000 people an hour, in one direction, and 60,000 in all four directions.

The project is expected to cost more than 400 million dollars, with the Ethiopian government covering 15pc of the financing, and the Chinese Export and Import Bank covering the difference.

Earth moving of the underground pass of the LRT from Minilik square is on its way to be finalized and soon the Abuna Petros round about will be closed to move the construction forward.

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