By Muluken Yewondwossen |

The Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) and China Railway Group Ltd (CREC) are under negotiation to embark on the second phase of the Addis Ababa Light Railway Transit (AALRT) in the coming GTP II, Capital learned.

On several occasions, the management team of the railway corporation had let slip that the corporation did not have a short term plan to undertake the extension before completion of the AALRT which is in its final stages of construction. The corporation officials had said previously that the corporation has to evaluate robustness of the current project before launching another one.

Sources told Capital that the corporation is negotiating with CREC to commence the second phase railway line in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) period.

The current metropolitan electric railway has a total length of 34.25 km (the North-South line 16.9 km and the East-West line 17.35 km), and is constructed by a similar company, which facilitated the finance from Chinese EXIM Bank.

Sources said that the new extension project will also be financed by Chinese financers. According to sources the second phase LRT will be equal to the length of the current one. Sources added that the company is making effort to come up with adequate finance for the future project. The first project has consumed USD 475 million.

Ethiopia has interest to modernize its mass transportation means particularly in the capital city, which is seriously hit by shortage.

The construction of the light railway is one of the strategies the government sets to expand in developing the mass transportation system. The first phase line stretches from the Eastern part of the city near Ayat Village and passes through Megenagna-Meskel Square to Tor Hailoch, and the other stretches from the Southern part of the city in Kality- Meskel Square-Lideta High Court-Merkato  to Minilik Square.

According to the study, the new expansion will continue to Legetafo from Ayat, and to Lebu via Alem Bank from Tor Hailoch on the east-west side of the current line. The north-south line will continue to Shero Meda from Minilik Square and to Gelan from Kality. The plan indicated that the Lebu and Gelan routes will be connected with the national railway line, which is also in the final stage of construction, which leads to the sea ports in Djibouti from Sebeta, in the West of Addis Ababa.

Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), Minister of Communication and Information Technology and Coordinator for Finance and Economic Cluster in the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, recently gave confirmation about the second phase project. He said that the extension will be undertaken in the GTP II. However, no further details as to when the project will begin were not available as ERC declined to comment. Communication Director of ERC Dereje Tefera said, “we will disclose the details after approval of the plan.”

CREC is also undertaking the 329km Sebeta-Meiso project which is part of the 668km Sebeta-Dewelle railway line that connect with Djibouti. The second lot of the 339Km Meiso-Dire Dawa-Dawelle electric railway project was awarded to another Chinese state-owned enterprise, China Civil Construction Corporation (CCECC).

In the current GTP, the government had planned to carry out 2,000km national railway project; the actual achievement was the 668km Sebeta-Dewelle line excluding the AALRT.

Source: Capital Ethiopia



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