(11 October 2011, The Africa Report )--At least 1 000 houses in Ethiopia's town of Nazareth are set to be demolished to make way for the construction of a recently launched Ethiopian railway project, as one of the train stations will be located in that area.
Nazareth is about 100 kilometres east of Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Last month, Ethiopia launched the construction of the more than 5 000 km rail network that aims to link the capital to various regions of the country.
The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) assured that all those displaced by the construction works would be moved to another location that had all the necessary residential facilities. Already a committee has been established to deal with compensation and related issues for those affected by the massive construction project.
The project is expected to cost the Horn of Africa country more than US$1 billion, the ERC announced.
Loans from foreign partners and the Ethiopian government will finance the construction of the railroad.
The ERC said the rail network will stretch out in eight directions across the country, with a 655.7km track - the longest- between Addis Ababa and Djibouti and should help the country enhance its local trade as well as its foreign export market.
Transport is one of the main barriers to trade, the absence of a reliable railway in the country especially between major towns and the main Ethiopian port in Djibouti, have seen the costs of trade escalating.
The Ethiopian rail authority said it expected that, when functional, the railway system would "enable the nation to transport 6 million tonnes of freight, which in the past has only been impossible by truck".
The railway project is one of priority areas of the Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), a five year government development programme that will see the construction of 1 833.6km of railway lines.
So far US$100 million has been secured for the project from the Chinese Export and Import Bank.
India has pledged a US$300 million loan for the Ethiopian-Djibouti railway project.
A total of 18 companies have won contracts to design the railroads, with the construction of the 210km track between Nazareth and Meiso having been awarded to the Chinese Railway Corporation. In addition, the Addis Ababa light train project will create at least 5 000 jobs.
Ethiopia has launched an aggressive development plan and hopes to be classified by the World Bank as a lower middle income country by 2015.
The existing 60km rail link between Addis Ababa and Djibouti has been suspended as it had reached its life expectancy. It was constructed by the French for the Emperor, Menelik in the early 1900s.
Source: The Africa Report