ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian officials have launched the pre-service testing of the country’s first ever inter-city light rail system, a $475 million project that the government hopes would ease traffic congestion in its sprawling capital of Addis Ababa.

“The light rail project will help curb transportation shortage and ease traffic congestion in the city,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters in the launch ceremony.

Desalegn, senior government officials and Chinese diplomats were the first passengers on board a train of the new light rail system, which two lines stretch 34km across the Ethiopian capital.

China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) carried out construction of the environmentally-friendly project, he first of its kind in East Africa.

The light rail lines, which would go operational after three months of standard trial, are projected to give service to 15,000 passengers per hour. Each train has the capacity to carry 286 passengers.

The Chinese EXIM Bank covered 85 percent of the cost for construction in line with a loan agreement with the Ethiopian government.

Sunday’s testing covered 9.2km between the southern Kaliti district and Meskel Square in the city’s center.

Ethiopia is currently engaged in an ambitious project to construct 5,000km-long rail network, which involves Chinese, Indian, Russian and Turkish companies.

Source: Newstime Africa

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