2 August 2014

Ethiopia: Historic Ethio-Djibouti Railway Track Worth Br20 Million Stolen

Photo: Ben Parker/IRIN
(file photo)

Individuals are dismantling and selling the historical Ethio-Djibouti railway line near Adama town. Addis Alemayehu, head of the Adama station, told The Reporter that individuals are dismantling and selling the steel structure of the railway line between Modjo and Adama towns. According to Addis, the individuals are also stealing the railway line that lies between Adama and Wolenchiti towns.

Addis said that the culprits sell the steel structure to foundries established by Chinese citizens in Adama town and near Koka. According to Addis, so far railway lines worth 20 million birr have been stolen. He claims that with the help of the Federal Police, steel rails worth two million birr have been recovered at different localities. "With the help of the federal police we have been able to apprehend some of the individuals and those who bought the railway line. We have brought them to justice," Addis told The Reporter. The foundries owned by Chinese citizens reprocess the steel and manufacture iron bars. Addis is the only custodian of the Adama railway station. The Ethio-Djibouti Railway Enterprise ceased operations in 2010. "There is no adequate budget to hire people to guard the railway line, stations and other properties of the enterprise," Addis said. Individuals have settled on land that belongs to the Adama station. "We are also in a tug-of-war with the Adama town administration that wants to take the land away from us."

"We have appealed to the office of the prime minister who gave orders to the local administration not to appropriate the plot of land that belongs to the company." The Ethio-Djibouti Railway Enterprise owns an old office building, store and employees' residential houses, and fuel tankers at the Adama station. Old wagons and tankers for molasses are left to rust.

Ethio-Djibouti Railways (Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Ethio-Djiboutian), also known as the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Enterprise, is a railway company based in Addis Ababa and Djibouti. It is the successor of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway and is jointly owned by the governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti. The firm was established after Djibouti gained independence in 1977 and received French ownership stake in the Franco-Ethiopian line. The 781 km railway linked Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti in 1917. Maintenance shops along the line are located in Dire Dawa. Out of the 781 km rail only 100 km is found in Djibouti while the remaining lies in Ethiopian territory. The Ethiopian government has established a new railway company, Ethiopian Railway Corporation, that is building a new railway line to Djibouti. The faith of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Enterprise will be determined after two years when the fifty year agreement signed by the two governments will expire.

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