At Meskel Square, in the heart of Addis Ababa, traffic is even more chaotic than usual as cars, buses and pedestrians weave around the 5.5 m-high pillars now straddling an eight-lane highway. This is what you call mega project!
Tigrai Onlne - March 25, 2014
At Meskel Square, in the heart of Addis Ababa, traffic is even more chaotic than usual as cars, buses and pedestrians weave around the 5.5m-high pillars now straddling an eight-lane highway.
Confusion reigns too at Mexico Square to the west and Megenagna round-about to the east – evidence that work on the city's light rail transit (LRT) system is progressing at a phenomenal pace.
Ethiopia's projects are far more advanced – they benefit from the wholesale support of the government – while Kenya's are lagging behind.
The railway to link South Sudan to the port at Lamu lacks investment, and the development of the new standard gauge line is bogged down in debates about how the contract was awarded.
In Ethiopia, two twin-track lines will bisect Addis Ababa north to south and east to west, diving underground along certain sections and, as in Meskel Square, rising up high on elevated tracks.
Trains will run for up to 18 hours per day at intervals of three to six minutes at peak times and will be able to carry a maximum of 60,000 passengers per hour.
With journey times from the periphery slashed by up to two-thirds, the LRT has the potential to revolutionize transportation in this fast-growing city.
"Ground was broken on 31 January 2012 and the first trains are expected to start running on 1 January 2015," says project manager Behailu Sintayehu, adding that 52% of the construction has been completed so far.
More than 3,000 Ethiopian laborers and engineers, overseen by the main contractor China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC), are working in shifts around the clock to meet the ambitious deadline.
Ethiopia thinks ahead
As a result, the ERC's priority is the line from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti. The government awarded this contract to CREC and China Civil Engineering Construction Company, and so far around 25% of the project has been completed.
The government is using the first phase of construction of both the LRT and the national rail network to build capacity for domestic industries.
Contractors conduct training for local staff and the Institute of Technology has opened at Addis Ababa University specializing in engineering. The government is sending promising undergraduates to Russia, India and China to continue their education.
The government hopes that the second phases of the LRT and rail network projects will be carried out entirely by Ethiopian enterprises, says Abebe.
Source: The African Report - http://www.theafricareport.com/East-Horn-Africa/transport-riding-the-rails-in-ethiopia-and-kenya.html