ERA: Road Dire Dawa to Djibouti for Cancellation

The Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) was told to bring down its ambitious budget request of 15 billion Br for 2010/11.

The issue was debated at a budget hearing meeting that involved Mekonnen Manyazewal, state minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), and his budget team; a delegation from the Ministry of Works and Urban Development (MoWUD), headed by Minister Kassu Illala (PhD); Zayad Woldegabriel, the ERA’s director general; and Bekele Negussie, the ERA’s Plan and Programme Division manager. The authority reports to the MoWUD.

The ERA’s request for 12.6 billion Br was to come from the government, while the rest was dependent on aid and loans. Its budget for the current fiscal year was 11.2 billion Br.

“We need this budget to achieve our plans,” Zayad said, according to an official who attended the meeting.

The ERA had to cut its demand, as its request could not be met by the anticipated government revenues for 2010/11, Mekonnen’s team insisted.

“The road sector is a government priority,” said an official at the MoFED. “And it will be accorded a large budget as usual. But we have asked it to reduce its request because the situation does not allow us to grant that [much],” said a senior official at the MoFED.

The budget request may go down by 2.1 billion Br, an official at the ERA said.

The ERA has already targeted the 300km road from Dire Dawa to Djibouti for cancellation. The design for this road was made two years ago by Hilcrow, a UK company.

The road would have shortened the distance from Dire Dawa to Djibouti by 100km. But the ERA now says that the road is not a priority because of the difficulty of building the road through a lot of swamps along the route and the availability of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway.

This road would require hundreds of millions of Birr, while the MoFED wants the budget request slashed by billions. The ERA’s officials are now considering which other projects they can drop in order to meet the target.

Another huge budget consumer is the Ministry of Education (MoE), whose officials were not as tenacious as the ERA’s when they were told to reduce their request, according to a MoFED official. The ministry had requested 12 billion Br.

Source: addisfortune.com

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