(Xinhua) – The Sebeta/Addis Ababa-Adama-Mieso railway, which is the key section of Ethiopia’s railway project of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway being built by the China Railway Group (CREC) is nearing completion.

As the track-laying activity is approaching completion, a grand ceremony was held on Monday in Adama town about 99 km south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, where senior government officials, diplomats, Chinese and local staff of CREC as well as residents of Adama town celebrated the landmark chapter of the project.

The Sebeta/Addis Ababa-Mieso railway project covers a total length of 329 km. The Ababa-Adama section is a double track 115 km in length while the Adama-Mieso is a single track covering 214 km.

The standard-gauge railway, which is one section of the first Ethiopia’s national railway network, has been contracted by CREC with a total cost of US$2 billion.

With a designed speed of 120km/h, the electrified-railway connects Addis Ababa with important cities of Adama, Dire Dawa, and Djibouti Port, and is the main transportation corridor for imports and exports in Ethiopia and the inland of East Africa.

Stating that the project is the first modern railway in Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the project is a blood-line of the country’s economy.

“In addition to its contribution to facilitation of transportation in the country, the project plays a significant role in sharing experience and transfer of technology and skills from the Chinese to Ethiopians, which in the future will enable Ethiopian professionals to carry out such infrastructure projects in the country on their own,” he said.

Stating that more than 80% of the project has been completed so far, Getachew Betru, CEO of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC), noted that the speed and works on the construction of the project show that it would be fully completed as per the contract schedule and standard.

Getachew called on all concerned parties and the local community to continue to work together and support the undertaking of the project towards its successful completion.

Reiterating that the railway facilitates Ethiopia’s imports and exports via the Addis Ababa-Djibouti corridor, Arkebe Equbay, adviser to the prime minister and also board chairman of ERC, highlighted the role the project plays in the country’s economic performance.

He added that the project also contributes to economic integration in the sub-region, and is a model from which good experience has been gained for future railway projects to be carried out in the country.

Appreciating the commitment and collaboration of Ethiopians and the Chinese towards the success of the project, La Yifan, Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, hailed the project’s role in strengthening friendship and also taking relations between Ethiopia and China to a new height.

He reiterated that the project helps technology and skill transfers between Chinese experts and their Ethiopian counterparts.

Beginning in February 2012, the Sebeta/Addis Ababa-Mieso Railway Project is expected to be fully completed in few months.

CREC is also carrying out the US$475 million Addis Ababa electrified railway project, which started test-rides early February this year in the capital of the East African nation.

CREC, which is one of the world’s top 500 enterprises with 300,000 permanent staff, has overseas projects in 68 countries and regions.

While working on different projects in Ethiopia, CREC has been supporting the locals, especially those who are by the projects sites, where the Chinese company has undertaken development programs in water supply and road development.

Source: Want China Times

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