ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Railways Corporation has finally secured a plot of land in Bishoftu town for Academy to train operators and more, its officials said.
The Corporation signed a 1.57-billion-birr grant agreement in September 2018 with the Chinese government for the construction of the academy in Bishoftu town, located some 50 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.
The construction was scheduled to start last year. But failure to secure the land where the academy built on has delayed the Chinese sponsored project for nearly a year, sources close to the project said.
Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian said his government, in addition to financial support, agreed to provide technical assistance for the project.
The initial plan was for the construction to take two years. Challenges related to security, and followed by reshuffling officials have made getting the project off the ground complicated, said Abiy Getachew, acting deputy director of the railway academy. “Our recent discussions with Bishoftu Town administration has ended in success,” he said.
Accordingly, the administration has allocated 61 hectares of land for the first phase of the construction. The whole project needs 151 hectares plot of land.
The Corporation has already compensated families who are evacuated from this land, Abiy said.
Chinese ambassador Tan also affirms that the project still has his country’s full support for the realization of the academy. “We are now pushing for the project to start,” he added.
The construction of the academy will be carried out by a Chinese company and will be constructed in two phases. It will incorporate 800-meter long railway line to provide practical training to students, in addition to classes, administrative buildings, meeting halls, dining rooms, dormitories, instructors’ residence and more, according to Abiy.
The academy, when its construction concluded, will enroll up to 1,000 students and train them in seven fields and plans to be the center of excellence in the railway sector in Africa, said Abiy.
The Corporation spent five million dollars to train 254 operators in China last year.
By Sisay Sahlu