New roads will reach previously under-served areas which are rich in resources but until now have been inaccessible to investors and remained difficult to travel for local inhabitants.
The Ethiopian Roads Authority signed a 1.5 billion birr agreement on December 29, 2011 with two local companies for the construction of two roads located in the Southern regional state and Benishagul Gumuz regional state.
Zaid Woldegebriel Director General of ERA said at the signing ceremony that the 85Km Salaysh-Omo road project will enhance the economic and social importance of the Omo region especially now that large sugar projects are coming to the area.
He also said the people in that area were poor largely due to transportation difficulties and that the roads will bring about significant social change.
Benishangul Gumuz regional state is endowed with rich fertile land, as well as a variety of mineral deposits which up to now have been difficult to tap by investors because of the lack of infrastructure in the area. The road leads to the 5,250 Mega Watts (MW) Grand Renaissance Dam which is a welcome plus, Zaid said.
Akir Construction Company will undertake the 85Km, 684.4 million birr, Salaysh-Omo road project which is part of the Arba Minch-Sawla- Maji highway located in Southern regional state. Expected to take three years to finish, the Salaysh-Omo road will be assisted by Net Consulting Company. The asphalt road will be 19 meters wide in urban areas and 10 meters in the countryside.
The Arba Minch-Sawla-Maji highway covers 502Km and is divided into seven phases with an estimated construction cost of about four billion birr.
Ethiopian Roads Construction Corporation (ERCC), a state owned public enterprise and a new entity that split five months ago from the road authority, will construct the 74Km Guba-Begondi roads and the 41.5Km, Begondi-Wonbera road at a cost of 767.7 million birr. The hilly road will be sixty percent gravel and forty percent asphalt and is expected to take around two and half years to be completed.
Zaid commended Akir Construction for its prompt delivery of road projects. Awotahegn Kiros, General Manager of Akir Construction Company said they are confident construction will begin soon and machines have already been purchased from Ries Engineering.
Yeneneh Assefa operation manager at ERCC said the corporation will work as hard as possible to finish the project on time.