Flawed design delayed this project though the first segment of road was completed 10 years ago

By Samrawit Lemma |

A road design which had intended to demolish the historic building at the La Gare train station finally gave way to another design that makes a detour, allowing road construction to resume on December 14, 2015, after a delay of 10 years.

The construction, which is now expected to be completed in three months, initially envisioned the road continuing straight from Churchill Road right through the landmark which served as the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Corporation building, to connect to the road from Gofa Mazoria to Kirkos Church. The 800m, Gofa Mazoria-Kirkos Church road was completed 10 years ago; but the 485m road from the Church to La Gare had to be interrupted because of the design’s failure to consider that the building was preserved as a heritage site. That design was made in 2005/06.

Previously buildings older than 100 years were considered historical heritage and registered as such by the Ethiopian Research Institute for Culture & Heritage. The La Gare  building is 126 years old. Currently, the 100-year mark no longer applies if buildings and statues are of historical consequence, according to Ephrem Amare, Cultural Heritage Inventory Inspection director at the Institute.

Solomon Eshetu, director general of the Corporation, told Fortune that a lot has been done to save the building, which was registered as built heritage only in 2012.

“Now the design is 50m far from the main building,” he said.

Eight other right of way issues have been handled, with the Addis Abeba City Roads Authority (AACRA) paying six million Birr in compensation.

The Ethio-Djibouti Railway Corporation main building has, accordingly, been spared but a side building that has been serving as a finance office and workers cafeteria has been demolished for the road to pass through that spot. Two water towers, each with a capacity for 30,000 cubic metres of water, are also being moved; underground water pipes at the site will also be buried two metres deep. Technicians of the Corporation have come from Dire Dawa to undertake this work.

One of the technicians, Sintayehu Mulat, said that they were called to relocate the two huge tankers and old railway tracks, a job which could be completed in one week’s time.

For Fasil Ghiorghis, an expert in conservation of urban and architectural heritage at Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction, and City Development (EiABC), the fact that urban planners and architects do not have basic training in historic preservation, is having an impact on the way they make a design.

“It is only in the past two or three years that such training became incorporated. I am sure it will make a difference because it is a basic lesson,” he said.

In terms of total cost, Project Manager Matios Tsegaye, told Fortune that the Authority is undertaking the construction of the road with its own force, using an expenditure based budget. It is calculating the overall cost of the project as the work progresses. Like all projects AACRA undertakes on its own, it does not allocate a set budget ahead of time, he added.

Established in 1917 Ethio-Djibouti Railway Corporation is now operating as the Ethiopian Railways Corporation,  covering a 210km distance from Dire Dawa to Gelile twice a week. A new 756km track is under construction, which is expected to be completed next year. The portion of the track that has been completed, was recently used to carry emergency wheat cargo from Djibouti to Mereb Mersa, 122km from Addis Abeba.

Source: Addis Fortune
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