Roundup: Ethiopian minister commends Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified railway

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ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia's Transport Minister, Dagmawit Moges, on Thursday commended the successful construction and operation of the 756-kms Africa's first fully electrified trans-boundary Ethiopia-Djibouti standard gauge railway.

Moges made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Development Strategy and Freight Service Introduction Conference held on Thursday on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The high-level conference was co-hosted by the Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway Share Company and the China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC) - China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Joint Venture under the theme of "Ethio-Djibouti Railway - The way to Prosperity."

"The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is a flagship of mega projects of three brotherly countries: Ethiopia, Djibouti and China," the Ethiopian transport minister told the conference.

"Together we accomplished a very significant task of construction of about 756-kms of rail line with major relevant infrastructure, rolling stocks and facilities with the system made open to operation since January 2018," said Moges.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified railway is the first trans-boundary railway on the African continent.

Contracted by two Chinese companies, the first 320 km of the rail project from Sebeta to Mieso was carried out by CREC, while the remaining 436 km from Mieso to Djibouti port section was built by CCECC.

The CREC-CCECC Joint Venture is a management contractor of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, which presently provides both passenger and freight services between Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian, who started his ambassadorial tenure in the east African country in December 2017, also stressed that the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line is "a lifeline to landlocked Ethiopia."

Tan Jian, on his part, also said the fully-electrified railway is serving as a major economic lifeline for landlocked Ethiopia since it's commissioning nearly three years ago.

"There are 13 countries in the world with a population size larger than 100 million. You might have noticed that Ethiopia is the only one with no coastline and sea port. This is the major bottleneck for Ethiopian development, and 95 percent of its trade goes through Djibouti," the Chinese ambassador affirmed.

"This is why this rail, will help turn the landlocked into land-linked. It's not just a rail, but a lifeline also, an artery also," Tan added.

The Chinese ambassador also said in addition to serving the foreign trade needs of Ethiopia, the 756-kms Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified railway has also incentivized the construction of industrial parks along the route.

"Ethiopia has been striving to become the manufacturing hub of Africa. It has built 15 industrial parks, out of which nine are located along the rail. This is called industrialization," Tan said.

The railway has cut the transportation time for freight goods from up to seven days to less than 20 hours and reduced the cost by at least one third.

Ethiopia, taking advantage of the railway's efficient and speedy service, has built or is building nearly a dozen industrial parks along the rail line to facilitate speedy transportation of industrial exports. Enditem

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