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A car assembly built by Nigma Agro Industry was partly demolished by the Gullele Sub-city’s, Woreda 10 Building Permission and Inspection Office last Saturday, citing that the assembly plant did not have the required title deed and construction permit for property.
The Woreda stopped the demolition on court order. The office said that the Nigma Agro Industry’s assembly had operated on the site for the past six months with investment of USD 1.5 million on the facility assembling Daewoo and Chevrolet vehicles.
Birhanu Zewde (PhD), co-founder of the car assembly, said that Nigma had initially used the site to produce bricks, but in 2012 relinquished parts of the land it had been using for the past 20 years for the assembly.
“What they are doing is insane,” the proprietor denounced the Woreda’s action. He added that he has a reference written by the Woreda itself to the Investment Commission. The Woreda is cited in the reference saying “The assembly is good for the country, it brings in revenue and opens jobs…and issuing the title deed will be effective in due course.”
The Woreda administration says the demolition came after repeated warning notices were sent to Nigma and all of them were ignored.
Current administration procedures require one to get a permit from the local authority to construct or renovate. And to be given such a permit, applicants need to present certificates of ownership to the permit issuing body.
“We told them to bring their title deed but they couldn’t produce it. We wrote five notices of demolition, but they were not willing to comply. As a government executive body, we have the responsibility to protect the law and to combat illegal construction,” said Shambel Abebe, Head of Woreda10.
Nigma’s Marketing Manager, Daniel Tamrat, told Capital that they had received a notice from the Woreda on November 3, 2015 to demolish the structure. “We were very shocked and swiftly wrote a letter to the Investment Commission. The commission told the Woreda to stop the demolition mentioning the assembly’s worth for the country and that the demolition may shed a black cloud on other investments. Despite the notice, they finally came along with over 20 policemen and a grader and demolished it on January 23.”
According to Daniel, more than 40 percent of the property was destroyed and Nigma is awaiting a court’s decision after filing an appeal.
“The government calls on foreign investment but when we invite foreigners in to work with us, the administration disturb the work, like they have done to us,” said Daniel in a disappointed tone. Russian and Israeli shareholders were among those facilitating finances for the construction of the assembly plant.