The 756kms Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway has boosted Ethiopia’s economic capacity, an Ethiopian expert said on Friday.

Speaking to Xinhua, Gedion Jalata, a senior advisor to the UNDP South-South Cooperation and a former consultant to UNECA-Capacity Development Division, said the Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge railway has boosted the overall economic growth of Ethiopia.

Jalata is also a CEO at Center of Excellence International Consult, a consulting firm based in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

“The Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge railway has the potential to boost regional integration between the two countries through the enhancement of trade and social interaction,” said Jalata.

“The railway has modernized Ethiopia’s transport sector, and served as an economic belt by providing outlets to industrial products coming from various industrial parks such as Adama, Hawassa and Eastern Industrial Parks,” Jalata told Xinhua.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line has created a suitable transportation corridor for landlocked Ethiopia’s import-export trade through Djiboutian ports, with 9 industrial parks out of a total of 15 Ethiopian industrial parks being situated along the rail line.

According to the Ethiopian Railway Corporation the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line has significantly cut travel time for freight services from 84 hours to around 10-15 hours, while reducing at the same time transportation costs.

Jalata also hailed Chinese assistance in boosting the technical capacity of Ethiopian and Djiboutian staff working at the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line, saying that “the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line has contributed to the creation of around 63,900 permanent and temporary direct job opportunities and up to 25,000 indirect job opportunities for locals.”

“Several employees of Ethiopian Railway Corporation have also been given the opportunity to go to China to study railway engineering, train driving, as well as maintenance and repair at Chinese tertiary educational institutions,” Jalata told Xinhua.

The indirect job opportunities were created in the areas such as retailing, short distance freight transport, passenger transport, bulk cargo undertakings and real estate.

Jalata said Chinese assistance during the construction of the 756 kms Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line, also extended to giving direct assistance to local communities living along the line through the construction of 4,000 kms long roads and digging of 50 water wells.

“The 756 kms Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line was instrumental in helping Ethiopia effectively deal with the 2015-2017 drought conditions in the country, through the transportation of around 200,000 tons of emergency grain provisions transported to drought-stricken regions of the country,” he further said.

Contracted by two Chinese companies, the first 320 km of the rail project from Sebeta to Mieso was carried out by the China Rail Engineering Corporation, while the remaining 436 km from Mieso to Djibouti port section was built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. Enditem

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