ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held talks with Ambassador of Italy to Ethiopia, Arturo Luzzi, on activating the restoration work on Aksum stelae.
The stelaes, whose history ruins date back to the ancient Kingdom of Aksum, are the pride of Ethiopians and a popular tourist attraction in the nation.
But now, one of these stelaes has tilted backwards, raising fears that the stele – with 24 meters height and 160 tons weigh – could eventually fall down.
Government has already set up a committee of experts to look into the problem, and start work to save the stelae from collapse with the support from Italian government.
Tuesday’s meeting between Abiy and Luzzi is a follow up from a discussion the prime minister held with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte at the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in China.
During the discussion in Beijing, the Premier secured the support of the Italian Government towards the restoration of the obelisks.
“Following his engagement on June 10, 2019 with Axum city community members, PM Dr Abiy today met with Ambassador of Italy to Ethiopia, Mr. Arturo Luzzi, to discuss activating the restoration work,” said Abiy’s office in a statement.
A high level delegation, organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also arrive in Addis Abeba next week in relation to the Axum obelisks restoration work, the office said.
Renovation works on the granite stelae, royal tombs in the historic city of Aksum, could cost close to four million euro, authorities estimate.
Originally, architects from Italy projected for the whole project to cost only 500,000 Euro.
Not doing the work on time has increased the damage as well as the cost, said experts last month.
Authorities are now saying the whole re-installation process may cost 3.9 million Euros and take 11 months. The work may not start until the current rainy season is over.