Addis-Djibouti electric rail to begin operations in September

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Passengers wait to board a train at the St George underground station in the capital Addis Ababa. (Internet photo)

An electric rail cutting across Ethiopia from its capital Addis Ababa all the way to the Red Sea state of Djibouti will start operating by September this year, Getachew Betru, the CEO of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation, has said.

“We have completed 95 per cent of the project. We are waiting for allocation of electricity for the line and will start full operation in September,” said Betru. 

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway links Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, providing landlocked Ethiopia with improved railroad access to the sea. The line is expected to boost Ethiopia’s trade by reducing the goods movement duration from two days to eight hours. Currently, hundreds of trucks were transporting goods between the two countries, taking a total of four days for a round trip.

The $3 billion railway will boost trade in the region by introducing faster movement of goods, reducing the time to two hours from eight hours. However, hundreds of trucks take a minimum of four days for a round trip between the two points.

China is building the 756km electric railway with financing from the Export-Import Bank of China. 

The line covers 656km from Addis Ababa to the Dewale border town, with the other 100km stretching to Djibouti’s Doraleh Port.

Five years

Betru also disclosed that other electric railway line linking the north and the northeast Ethiopia with Djibouti’s Tajura Port, was 30 per cent complete.

The state corporation, Betru also said, was working to increase the 32km Addis Ababa city light railway to 100km in next five years.

Betru, together with his parliamentary colleagues, defended the performance of the corporation.

Betru defended the performance of the corporation which was criticised in the Auditor-General’s report for using additional funds without notifying the Finance ministry, poor documentation and for implementing projects before conducting environmental impact assessment, among others. The corporation official cited the urgency and the complexity of the projects as well as lack of previous experience in their defence. “It is a game-changer for us. It will be one of the most vibrant economic corridors in the world,” said Betru.

Agencies