8 February 2014

Ethiopia: Famous Market to Go As Ring Road Enters Final Stretch

The expensive and long-delayed Addis Ababa ring road project is set to begin the final phase of construction, for the section stretching from the Addisu Gebeya area to the Megenagna Terminal. On announcing the plans, the Addis Ababa City Road Authority (AACRA) also detailed the controversial demolition of the famous Shiromeda market center, well known as a major tourist spot.

Residential houses and businesses will also be removed as part of the ongoing road construction. The Shiromeda marketing center is one of the biggest in the capital, exclusively serving locally-made traditional attire. It sees thousands of visitors each day, including sellers, buyers and weavers, and many micro and small enterprises depend on the existence of this frenetic market place. Apart from being a business center, Shiromeda is regarded as a prime tourist location in Addis Ababa, a place where many foreign visitors seek to purchase original cotton-made clothes or to see the traditional weavers in action. The construction of Addis Ababa's ring road was initiated in 1998 and had a planned completion date of 2003.

With a view of implementing the city master plan and enhancing peripheral development, currently 37km of the ring road has been completed. However, the road is still more than ten years behind the original schedule, for a variety of reasons as claimed by the Authority. According to both ACCRA and the city administration, the clearing of existing infrastructure such as water pipes, telecommunication and power lines have impeded the project.

The construction of the ring road has been undertaken in three major phases, with a view to connect all the main gates in and out of Addis Ababa with all the other regions.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is undertaking the project at an original cost of some USD 76 million (at the time equivalent to around 780 million Birr).

However, due to the delays the total project is expected to cost more than five times the original budget. Phase Two has already been built at a cost of two billion birr.

According to the latest reports issued by city administration, the final phase of the ring road is estimated to cost around 1.5 billion birr, which would inflate the gross cost to a hefty 3.5 billion birr. The drastic price hike of construction materials, compensation claims and other related incidents are the main factors in the severe increment, according to the city administration. In addition, both ACCRA and the city administration have been accused of the slow handling of issues relating to compensation and delayed provision of infrastructure-related requirements.

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