The Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) is considering to suspend the contract it signed with Tidhar Excavation and Earth Moving Ltd., an Israeli construction company, which is in turmoil after corruption allegations.
The Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) has frozen assets of the company that is undertaking the construction of three road projects in Addis Ababa.
Early this week, Menashe Levy, manager and owner of the company, was arrested on corruption and tax evasion allegations.
Prosecutors of FEACC have been investigating the company for over one year. The investigation gave inkling that the company owner gave 1.5 million birr bribe for three Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) officers to have the tax revised from 52.798 million birr to 6.115 million. The accomplices consequently agreed with the sum and slashed off 46.883 million birr tax Tidhar should be paying.
Since the company’s assets are frozen by the anti-corruption commission, Tidhar is unable to undertake projects with full capacity. The road stretching from the Ministry of Mines head office around Gurd Shola to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy at around the area known as 22 Mazoria is one of the major road projects Tidhar is constructing in the metropolis.
Fekadu Haile (Eng.), Director General of AACRA, told Capital that 80 percent of this road project is completed. The company was expected to complete the remaining 20 percent of the work in two months until September.
Fekadu said that his office and the consultant, Core Consulting Engineers Plc., are discussing about transferring the road project to another contractor.
Fekadu said that the Megenagna interchange, which is the major and sophisticated part of the project, presented a key challenge for the administrator to transfer the work to another company. He said transferring this section of the work has great risk factor. According to Fekadu, such kind of sophisticated project has to be done by the initial contractor, while the other parts of the construction can be done by other contactors. Fekadu said the authority is looking into the conditions to accomplish the project on time. The road project has already consumed over 58 percent of the finance.
The controversy Tidhar is tied in with FEACC has affected the project that has less than two months due time. Fekadu said that the project is currently almost stopped. This road project is being constructed in conjunction with the city railway project, Addis Ababa Light Railway Transport (AALRT).
Tidhar had won three of the many road projects that are being constructed in the metropolis. The 4.2km road from Sidist Kilo to Gurara, the Asko to Wingate, and Wingate to Pastor roads.
A year ago, FEACC commenced an investigation on Tidhar on suspicion of 52 million birr tax evasion case. Police has also arrested three ERCA employees who were presumably involved in the corruptionn