The Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Service Enterprise (ESLSE) has announced the completion of the design for a new dry port in Meqelle with a capacity of holding 14,500 containers.
Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC), a multi-national construction company, designed the new dry port which will lie on 57ha of land. It took seven months to complete the design, and is expected to accommodate over seven million tonnes of goods at once.
The existing dry port in Meqelle, rented from the City Administration, can accommodate 5,000 containers.
The newly designed dock will help the shipping giant to build a large and modernised dry port, according to Aklilu Tessema, Supervision & Contract Administration Officer of ESLSE.
"The construction is a part of the government's plan to set dry ports along the railway lines and industrial parks," said Aklilu.
Presently, the Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) is constructing a 268Km electrified railway line from Weldia to Meqelle at the cost of 1.5 billion dollars. CCCC, known for building the Addis Abeba Light Railway, is working on the new railway for the past two years achieving 45pc completion, although there are claims the construction was halted temporarily.
The newly designed dry port is situated within 10Km of the recently inaugurated 100 million dollars Meqelle Industrial Park, also constructed by CCCC.
A freight forwarder with two decades of experience believes that the railway will play a pivotal role in facilitating trade with the recently inaugurated Tajura Port.
"The port will help importers decrease costs and save time while transporting goods via Tajura Dry Port," said Gizeshwork Tessema, a major shareholder and manager of Gize Plc.
Located 772Km from Meqelle, the Tajura Port was constructed at the cost of 90 million dollars with a primary target of handling four million tonnes of Potash produced in the Tigray Regional State. The Port is expected to handle 35pc of the goods imported by Ethiopia.
The construction of the new dry port is scheduled to begin before the conclusion of this fiscal year. Entirely financed by the government, it is estimated to cost the Enterprise over 100 million dollars.
"After reviewing the new design, we will start negotiating with the Chinese company for its construction as a supplementary contract to the Woldia-Meqelle railway project," said Aklile.
In the same contractual arrangement, Chinese Civil Engineering Corporation (CCEC) is currently erecting the Dire Dawa dry dock with an outlay of 1.5 billion Br having a capacity of holding over 10,000 containers.
In the second edition of the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP II), the Enterprise has a plan to build 35 dry ports across the country from the existing eight.
Since the inception of the first dry port at Modjo, the government has constructed seven dry ports over the decade.
Presently, ESLSE is also undertaking a feasibility study to construct a dry port at Woreta, 618.4Km from Addis Abeba. The study aims to locate the exact place of the dock that is tentatively planned to contain at least 15,000 containers.
Amalgamated six years ago, the Enterprise is the result of the merger between Ethiopian Shipping Lines, Maritime & Transit Services Enterprise and Dry Port Enterprise. It has shipped 4.5 million tonnes of cargo in and out of the country in the past fiscal year, generating an income of over 23.6 billion Br.