Ethiopia hopes to reap benefits from eco-friendly rail projects


Taking advantage of its expanding hydropower and other renewable energy capacity, Ethiopia is building an extensive system of electric railways to ease urban traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions and pollution, officials say.
The country is constructing nearly 2,400km (1,500 miles) of national electric railways plus 34km (21 miles) of light rail in Addis Ababa as part of the five-year “Growth and Transformation” effort that ends in 2015.
Ethiopia has been slow to embrace railway transport in recent decades. The diesel-powered Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, built by the French in the first two decades of the last century, is now barely functional.
But the government now plans to rejuvenate moribund railway infrastructure to reduce road traffic as well as air and noise pollution that afflict the capital and, increasingly, major regional cities as well.
Work on the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project has been started by a Chinese firm, China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC), which is also building the first phase of the new Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, which will have a total length of 327km (204 miles). The second section of the railway, from Mei’so to Dawale at the Djibouti border, is currently under construction by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The two projects combined, are expected to cost close to USD 2.8 billion, a sum that will be covered by the Ethiopian government and a loan from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China.
A Turkish firm, Yapi Merkezi, has been awarded a USD 1.7 billion contract for a railway project from the eastern town of Awash to the northern city of Woldiya, with a total length of 389km (243 miles). The firm is preparing to begin construction.
(Walta Information Center)