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In the pattern of settlement and economic activity, road transport plays a vital role in facilitating the economic development
of a country by providing a major means of transportation for the public. For the movement of people, utilization of land and natural resources, improved agricultural production and marketing, access to social services and opportunities for sustainable growth, the expansion of standard road network is basic. Before 1997, the road sector’s development and the quality and size of road infrastructure in the country was quite low. The Road Sector Development Program (RSDP), being carried out throughout the country under the supervision of the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), is one of the successful achievements of the Ethiopian government in the past decade. Recent data indicated that over 100 billion birr had been mobilised for the construction of roads in the past decade and a half. To address constraints in the road sector, mainly low road network coverage and poor condition of the road network the Government formulated the Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) in 1997. The RSDP has been implemented over a period of fifteen years and in four separate phases, as follows: RSDP I – from July 1997 to June 2002 (5 year plan) RSDP II – July 2002 to June 2007 (5 year plan) RSDP III – July 2007 to June 2010 (3 year plan) RSDP IV – July 2010 to June 2015 (5 year plan) Over fifteen years of RSDP physical works consisting of rehabilitation and upgrading of trunk and link, construction of new link roads, construction of rural roads and community roads and maintenance of federal and regional roads have been carried out by ERA, Regional Road Authorities and Woreda road desks and the community and municipalities. Over fifteen years of RSDP series of policy and institutional reforms have been implemented in the sector. The government has been the major financer of RSDP followed by the Road Fund Office. Donors including the World Bank, European Union, The African Development Bank, Japan, Germany, U.K. and Ireland have supported RSDP in the past fifteen years. The Saudi Fund for Development, the Kuwait Fund and China also joined the financing partnership since RSDP II. The recent partner which joined this effort is the Abu Dhabi Fund. The fourth phase of RSDP that commenced in the beginning of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) with huge plans is in its third year. Recently, the authority has released the assessment of the first two years performance and the fifteen year accomplishment. According to the GTP plan, all Kebeles will be connected with all weather roads. According to ERA’s assessment, over the fifteen years of the RSDP, physical works have been undertaken on a total of 81,363 km of roads excluding routine maintenance work and community roads. The total budget for the planned works during this period amounted to 107.8 billion birr (USD 6.4 billion). The total amount disbursed in the same period, is 101 percent of the planned target. The Fourth Phase of RSDP is prepared as part of GTP, has been implemented since 2010/11. During the past two years of RSDP IV a total of 1837km of trunk and link roads were rehabilitated and upgraded; construction of 1235km of new gravel link roads was undertaken and heavy maintenance of 1818km of paved and gravel roads was carried out by ERA. Regional Road Authorities constructed/maintained some 26,289 km of rural roads, which was 97 percent of the planned target of 27,192 km. Compared to the planned targets, physical and financial accomplishments of RSDP IV were 86 percent and 101 percent respectively. In addition, bridges and structures were rehabilitated and regular routine maintenance was conducted on all types of roads. Over the two years of RSDP IV a total of 74,728km of physical road works was carried out of which 37,931km was on federal roads including periodic and routine maintenance, 26,289km was on regional roads construction and maintenance and 10,219 km was on Woreda roads and 289 km urban road. Physical accomplishment against plan was 86 percent. Total disbursement was about 48.1 birr billion and this disbursement was 101 percent of the plan. Various supporting studies and services were also undertaken, including institutional capacity building, policy support projects, detailed design review studies, feasibility and EIA studies. The assessment indicated that over the past 15 years, 27.8 percent of the total RSDP expenditure was utilized for rehabilitation and upgrading of trunk roads, 44.1 percent was for upgrading and construction of link roads and 8.4 percent was for expansion and maintenance of the regional roads. Around 7.9 percent of the expenditure was utilized for federal road maintenance (periodic & routine) and 2.9 percent was for supporting institutional support projects and other activities. Around 8.9 percent of the RSDP expenditure was used for the construction of community roads, urban road maintenance and Universal Rural Road Access Program (URRAP). The RSDP is achieving satisfactory progress against its objectives and benchmarks. Substantial improvement has been achieved in construction and upgrading the main road network and other routes. The impact of the program in building the capacity of the domestic construction industry is encouraging. Specifically, participation of the local contracting industry has increased, in terms of both the value and number of projects, over the last fifteen years of the RSDP. Some local contractors are now taking relatively bigger contracts, with values amounting to as much as 1.2 billion birr. Participation of local consultants has been particularly encouraging. In terms of contract value local consultants conducted around 55 percent of the consultancy services during the RSDP. Of the 887 contracts (both construction & consultancy) awarded over the last fifteen years of the RSDP, some 643 contracts were awarded to local companies. The majority of these contracts, 63 percent, were for consultancy services, with 37 percent for road construction works. The value of civil works contracts awarded to local firms excluding governmental institutions was 36.5 billion birr until June 2012, whilst that for consultancy services amounted to some 2.3 billion birr. Around 75 percent of the RSDP financing comes from internal source and the remaining 25 percent is from the development partners. The share of the government is the highest at 63.4 percent, followed by the Road Fund (10.3 percent), the IDA (9.2 percent) and the EU (6.2 percent). The fifteen years of the RSDP performance has brought significant improvements in the restoration and expansion of Ethiopia’s road network. Physical achievements have been matched by significant improvements in the condition of the network, strengthening of the management capacity of the road agencies and delivery on policy reform. A total of 71,145 km of major physical road works excluding routine maintenance was carried out of which 23,078 km was on federal roads, 48,066 km was on regional roads construction and maintenance and 10,219 km on URRAP roads. Over all physical accomplishment against plan including routine maintenance was 104 percent. Total disbursement was about ETB 108.5 billion and this disbursement was 101 percent of the plan. Specifically 2,482 km of rehabilitation and 3,588 km of upgrading of trunk roads were carried out under the program. Upgrading and construction of link roads was on 3,030 km and 4,379 km respectively. Heavy maintenance on 9,600 km of federal road was also carried out.