The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) has given the 18 companies, which have won the bid for the design, survey, and supervision of four railway tracks, five months to deliver the first two.
Projected to cost around 180 million Br, the design of a total of 1,833.6km of railway was awarded to 18 companies at the end of September 2010. Consultants of Category III and above were approached by ERC months ago to express interest for the projects which comprise a total of 18 lots.
Those which had shown interest were evaluated on its similar experience over the past 10 years, professional staff, annual turnover of the last five years, and available facilities.
After the evaluation many had made bids for the project, the first of its kind in magnitude and scope, in droves. Although around 100 companies attended the opening of the financial proposals in August 2010, only a few were awarded design bids and still fewer consultants won lots.
It was later decided by the government that each company will do only one lot and they were distributed to those who came in second during the initial bids, according to sources who work for one of the consultants which had taken part but wanted to remain anonymous as they were not authorised to comment.
Prominent consultants who have worked in the road sector in Ethiopia, including Eng. Zewdie Eskinder & Co Plc, Core Consulting Engineers Plc, and MH Engineering, are among the 18.
An agreement with the ERC was signed by the consultants at the end of September 2010, with the countdown to five months set to commence from mid-October 2010. They were given five months to deliver the survey and design of the lots, which have been divided into four projects.
At 655.7km, the track from Addis Abeba to Djibouti is the longest of the projects with five lots. It also contains a 210km stretch from Adama to Meiso, the single longest lot. The second longest project, 556.2km from Awash to Mekelle to Shire, consists of six lots while the shortest project, 256km from Finoteselam to Woreta to Woldya to Galafi, has only three lots. The four lots of the fourth project, from Addis Abeba to Ijaji to Jima to Dima, measures 365.7km.
Eng. Zewdie Eskinder & Co Plc, which designed the planned overpass bridge which will also carry a railway track around the Meshualekia area on Sierra Leone Street, won the lot from Armani to Kemisse. Core Consulting won the lot from Awash to Armani.
As part of the draft Five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the government has announced its plans to construct a close to 2,000km long railway by 2015. Being an effective, low-cost, and time saving mode of transporting products in bulk, rail transportation enjoys a high priority in the GTP.
The national network is intended to support Ethiopia’s agricultural sector by transporting export grain and livestock, Hailemariam Desalegn, board chairman of the ERC as well as newly appointed minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and deputy prime minister, said during the signing ceremony.
Expediency seems to be important for the government as the search for financing has taken a long time. Although India and China were initially approached to finance the project, it was China who came through with the money in the end. A few months ago, the Export Import Bank of China reportedly signed a 100 million dollar loan.
The Chinese Railway Corporation was also awarded the track from Addis Abeba to Mesio, part of the track going to Djibouti. As the major export corridor of the country, the railway to Djibouti has been given priority by the government, according to the GTP. Part of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the new railway designs are to the connect some of the major cities of Ethiopia. From Mekelle up North; Galafi and Djibouti in the East; Awash and Sebeta; and Jimma down South, the 1,833.6km-long railway will be providing service to these locations.