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Two Indian firms to build Ethiopian roads

By Hadra Ahmed, Addis Ababa, March 28 : Two Indian companies have been awarded contracts worth over 2 billion Br (over USD 100 million) to build roads in Ethiopia.


Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) has signed the contracts with the Indian firms.

JMC Projects Indian Limited Company, which participated in Ethiopia's road construction for the first time, was awarded a 109 km project for 1.1 billion Br earlier this month.

The agreement was signed between Monmohan Sawheni, vice president of JMC projects, and Zaid Woldegbriel, director general of ERA, at its headquarters.

This contract, which links Ethiopia to Kenya, is part of the first contract for the Addis Abeba-Hawassa-Moyale route. The authority is still looking for competitive consultants for this road project.

The company is expected to upgrade the current road to a two lane asphalt concrete road. Each lane is to have a carriageway width of seven meters and shoulder width of 1.5m on both sides, according to the agreement.

Construction costs will be covered by an 85 percent loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), with the balance covered by the Ethiopian government. The construction of this road is expected to be finalised within three years.

"The company will make sure that the project will be completed on time with the quality that serves the country's demands," said Monmohan Sawheni, vice president of JMC projects.

Another Indian construction company, SWE Infrastructure Developers Plc, has also signed an agreement for the construction of 66 km road project for close to a billion birr. The construction of this road project is expected to be finalized after four years.

This project is part of 331 km road projects that is envisioned to serve as better economic transaction routes within and between the countries, according to Samson Wondimu, director of communications at the authority.

However, the participation of Indian contractors is not much in the country. Currently, there are only four contractors and a few consultants active in the area.

"We want contractors from different countries (so) as to have a variety on design and construction," Wondimu told IANS.

"However, it is not clear why Indian contractors do not participate more often in road constructions."

The authority gives opportunities to interested and potential contractors as well as consultants, he added.

"...it would have been great to show what the Indian companies are capable of, like for instance, they have a history of delivering projects on time," said an expert who have been in the sector for over 20 years.

Two companies -- Ircon and SMC -- have delivered a 99 km and 80 km road construction projects, respectively, one after the other within two years time.

Ircon was responsible for a connecting gravel road project of Dera-Magna for 269 million Br while SMC carried out the Key Afer-Turmi road for 114.7 million Br.

(Hadra Ahmed can be contacted at hadraahmed@gmail.com)

--IANS (Posted on 28-03-2013)

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