By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
In a landmark first for Africa, a railway line linking Ethiopia, the continent’s second-most populous country, and Djibouti, a small nation in the Horn of Africa, has been completed, drastically cutting Ethiopia’s costs for accessing world markets.
A government-organized media tour Saturday touted the flagship project, mostly funded by China, and set to officially open in October.
The railway line, stretching more than 600 kilometers (373 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Doraleh on the Gulf of Aden, runs on electricity and is environmentally friendly, Ethiopian Railway Corporation communications officer Dereje Tefera told journalists.
“It will be hugely vital in drastically reducing the port service expenses the country is incurring,” he told Anadolu Agency, without supplying figures.
Some 90 percent of exports and imports from Ethiopia – a land-locked country – go through Djibouti’s ports.
The railway line boasts a 140-millimeter gauge, double-track line and offers both cargo and passenger services.
The passenger train has 41 locomotives in total, and each can pull 30 passenger cars, with a 118-seat capacity per car.
The cargo train has the capacity to carry 3,000 tons.
According to Dereje, the project has a $345 million price tag. China’s EX-IM bank covered 70 percent of the total cost, while the Ethiopian government put in the balance.
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