Funding approved for major new road

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First of its kind to include maintenance in the plan

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved USD 320 million on February 19 in Washington DC to construct a new type of asphalt road in Ethiopia. The bank has been a major player in the nation’s road development.  It approved the amount to construct the 258km Nekempte – Bure road to connect northwest Oromia with south-western Amhara regional state.
Samson Wondimu, public relations head of the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), told Capital that the road will be constructed with a new feature that bucks the usual construction trend.
The contractor that will manage the project is responsible to undertake the design, construction and maintenance (design, build and maintain) the road.
Previously, design and construction by a single contractor was implemented in the country, but maintenance has not been applied.
According the ERA public relations head, the contractor who will win the project is responsible for maintaining the road for five years after it finishes the construction.  
He said that the total cost of the road project will be USD 385 million out of this, USD 65 million  will be covered from government treasury.
According to Samson, based on the plan the bid will be issued during the current fiscal year. “That is why it appears to cost more,” he explained.
The WB said that the project also aims to enhance Ethiopia’s road asset management practices by supporting the maintenance of selected roads covering about 200 km; the government will fund a further 200 km of roads under a parallel financing. “The funds will also be used to provide technical assistance to strengthen road asset management capabilities, and prepare a road asset management strategy,” the WB statement added.
At the center of the new operation is the adoption of an Output and Performance Based Road Contracting (OPRC). The road asset management system is expected to reduce the whole-life cost of road infrastructure, provide increased budget certainty for investment and recurrent expenditures, and improve the quality and sustainability of the network for road users. 
The 258km Nekempte – Bure road project will consist of three different phases. The new asphalt inter regional corridor will be very advantageous in terms of reducing travel time to connect the two towns. Currently, the road is on a gravel level.
The Government of Ethiopia formulated the first phase of the Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) in 1997. Since then, the size of the road network has increased from 26,550 kilometers to 85,966 km, and the roads operating in good condition has risen from 20 percent to 70 percent. “Today’s project will benefit women and children by providing them with improved access, access to much needed education and medical facilities, including pre and post-natal care,” Tesfamichael Nahusenay Mitiku, World Bank task team leader, said. “Improved road conditions will also reduce the time that women spend transporting products to market, and will bring new opportunities for employment within small-scale, road-side commercial operations”.