Leaked info: Railway to link 49 Ethiopian towns

Nov 14 2010

The new Ethiopian railroad network will connect about 49 urban centers, according to a leaked document. To date, the government is unwilling to disclose the details of the pan, except for highly generalized statements. Various media outlets, local and international, have reported the government’s unwillingness to disclose.

The document,  which has been issued sometime in September or October and circulated among high ranking government officials, stresses the strategic importance of the railroad network plan for the success of the 5-years Growth and Transformation Plan(GTP). It urges, in the strongest terms, ‘all concerned’ to give unconditional cooperation to the success of the plan. Presumably, this is intended to preclude bureaucratic red tapes, which often result in higher program costs and the discouragement of contractors.

The new railroad network is planned to have at least 8 main routes that extends to all compass points. The   rail line will link no less than 49 urban centers, where railway stations are to be established. The proposed rail line crosses the borders of all regions, except Gambella. The network connects, among others, the Chartered Cities Addis Ababa & Dire Dawa, 7 of the 9 State capitals, and towns bordering Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.

To this end, the government plans to construct 4,780 Km railroad network.(See the map) The newly established Ethiopian Railway Corporation is responsible for the supervision of the construction.The new railway system is said to enhance the freight transport capacity of the nation by ‘at least five million tones, probably more’. The construction of the railroads is estimated to cost 40-50 Billion Birr spread on 7 years, while creating ‘job opportunity for several hundred thousands of people.

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Though the construction of the new railroad system is to be conducted in two phases’, the leaked document notes, ‘it is basically one program which is pivotal to the renaissance of the nation.’ Thus, it urges all concerned to embark on the preparatory works needed for all phases of the construction ‘without any delay.’ The document urges ‘all concerned’ to ensure the success of the plan in a manner that engages and benefits youth and women, and complements the transformation of Cooperatives.’

The reasons why the details are kept quasi-secret are not known. One of the reasons is to avoid undue expectations among the towns indicated in the current railroad design, according to my sources. Since some modifications to the rail routes may be made based on the recommendations of the consultants responsible for drawing the final design. However, this is unlikely to be the sole reason, since the current design is based on a fairly long study and major alterations of the route are highly unlikely, according to professionals in the rail industry.

So far, the nation has a railroad that links Addis Ababa, via Dire Dawa, to the port of Djibouti. The 781 Km long rail tracks were built by French in the early 1900s. About one third of the track is being re-laid with heavier weight rails; that is, changing the original 20kg per meter rails with 40kg per meter rails. A Belgian(?) company is responsible for the maintenance project, which the European Union funds.

Below are the towns that the proposed rail line connects.

Endpoint – Kurmuk, Sudan border
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Ambo – Ijaji – Nekemet – Nejo – Asosa – Kurmuk, Sudan border

Endpoint – Bedele
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Ambo – Ijaji – Seqa – Bedele
Endpoint – Dima
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Ambo – Ijaji – Seqa – Jimma – Tepi – Dima

– Hawassa
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo –  Zeway – Shashemene – Hawassa
Endpoint – Weyto
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo –  Zeway – Shashemene – Sodo – Arbaminch – Konso – Weyto
Endpoint – Moyale, Kenya border
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo –  Zeway – Shashemene – Sodo – Arbaminch – Konso – Yabelo – Mega –  Moyale, Kenya border
Endpoint – Asela
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Iteya – Asela
Endpoint – Ginir
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Iteya – Indeto – Gasera- Ginir

Endpoint – Finoteselam
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Awash – Combolcha – Dessie – Weldya – Wereta – Bahirdar –  Finoteselam
Endpoint – Shire
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Awash – Combolcha – Dessie – Woldya – Mekele – Aksum – Shire

Endpoint – Metema,  Sudan border
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Awash – Combolcha – Dessie – Weldya – Wereta – Azezo – Gendaweha – Metema, Sudan border

Endpoint – Galafi, Djibouti border
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Awash – Combolcha – Dessie – Woldeya – Semera – Ditchto – Galafi, Djibouti border

Endpoint – Dewele, Djibouti border
Addis Ababa – Sebeta – Mojo – Adama – Awash – Dire Dawa – Mieso – Dewele, Djibouti border

Stay tuned for more updates on this matter in the coming weeks.