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New rail project in Ethiopia evoke memories of glory days
By Matthew Newsome in Addis Ababa
In the first of a five-part series on railways in Africa, we visit Ethiopia, the first country in Africa to have a railway. The French-built railway connected the capital Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port of Djibouti. However, the old diesel railway is now being replaced by a Chinese-built electrified railway, a grand plan that seeks to transport the country’s commercial exports to its neighbouring countries.
A train hasn’t left Addis Ababa for six years. But this major new train line is expected to open between Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti in 2016.
This will be the first train line that forms a major piece of the 5,000 km transportation network planned to connect the landlocked country to neighbouring countries.
Abebe Meheret, the head of communications for Ethiopia’s National Railway Corporation, has high hopes for the new project.
“We are looking to connect to North Sudan, Central Sudan and South Sudan. From Ethiopia to Djibouti. From Ethiopia to Kenya, the Lamu corridor will be connected and it will be one of the best routes between Ethiopia and Kenya. The main purpose of the railway is to connect Ethiopia economically to its neighbouring countries.”
Two Chinese companies are involved in the project.
“We are preparing the railway for dual purposes. It is for passengers and for freight,” Meheret explained. “Maybe after 2 years we will have it. Everybody is eager to see the result. Every Ethiopian has taken this railway as its own project.”
The first railway in Africa was built in Ethiopia. It was the brainchild of two French engineers who approached Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II in 1897 with the ambitious idea of constructing a railway to replace the six-week mule trek between Addis Ababa and the French port city of Djibouti.
Debebe Kasa has worked as station manager at the old Addis Ababa station for the past 25 years. He said the frequency of train services declined sharply during Ethiopia’s communist military rule between 1974 and 1991.
“In 1917, the first train left Addis Ababa for Djibouti; 781 Km after two days. But [Emperor] Menelik did not see it…It was good because of the relationship with France, Belgium and Swiss. There were six passenger trains per day and four or five freight trains per day. After that, in 1974, Ethiopia became communist. [Under the] communists there were three trains per week,” he said.
When the trains needed spare parts, Kasa said, the French government did not want to give them to Ethiopia.
At the railway worker’s club in Addis Ababa, retired Ethiopian railway workers spend the day speaking French and playing pétanque.
Wase Fikru has worked on the railway all his life. Although he lamented the loss of the old railway, he was also excited about the new project.
“The railway workers must be the first to travel with this new train. I will be the first if I am alive. I love Chemins de Fer [railways], I love it. Everybody loves railway transport in Ethiopia; I gave it everything. I passed all my young age in that,” he recalled.
Ethiopia’s new railway is expected to cost close to 8 billion euros with funds coming from China, India, Brazil and Turkey. It is also expected to generate 30,000 new jobs.
The promise of Ethiopia’s railway project has captured the hearts and minds of Ethiopians. It is also expected to bring kudos back to a country that started the railway revolution
The glory days of Ethiopia no doubt has been and still remains to be the Ethiopia of old!!!
Even with billions of remittance money, and thanks to diaspora, will are still a strangling nation due to corruption by the likes of non-Ethiopian entities like TPLF and EFFORT!
Peoples must not forget ,by building the Railways Lines the French dream was that Menelike will let them the Monopol of the Trade isiden Harar and its areas .Which did never happen ,because the Great Emperor was so smart that he had already send back to where they came from ,British so called investors ,ploting to occupy the fertile lands of Sidamo and more in the name of Building Railway .This project ,seems more and more as the reincarnation of theformer evil plan of the the French and British ploting to occupy the lands .If Chinese are todays building this railway line is first of all of Facilating the Shiping of the Raw Materials to their own country .Do not forget that the French Government ceased its fanancial assistances to the then
Chemin De Fer ,after the Independance of Djibuti .A fact that Nothing is Given for Free by
anybody to anyone .Of course as an act of conforting their Dear Host they are surely building the Addis Light Train ,but who the hell is going to use it ,in a city where the peoples within their majority can not even afford to pay teir daily meals .
OPPOSITION DIASPORA TURNING IN THEIR GRAVES!
Men-4-you the asshole shabian
TEDDY the loony asshole shabian,….
You two illiterates, take it easy. You don’t need to show us your pain.
Jealousy and anger is eating you alive.
When we finish our rail road work, we will send you some of the scraps to improve your stinky camel station.
despite his intrigues emperor menilik was much much better than emperor hailesellassie who had much more chance to develop the country.
but by no means his effort can be compared with that of EPDRF’s accomplishment. after the axumite kingdom , no leader has accomplished so much in a short peroiod like the mighty EPDRF.
ment 4 you if melese’s was from north shoa your stupid comment was quite the contrary.for you idiots glorious days mean, slavery , peasantry, corruption , killing each other including your brothers. laziness,jealousy,
this is your legacy for more than 700 years.the best you can come with is emperor menlik second
Mentforyou, eventhough you are either eritrean or those called opposition you are still habesha and you should have been proud of the current EPRDF government for building schools,clinics, roads and dams better than before in 20years that never done before in minilik or haileslase’s 70year combain.
It is because of people like you we are way behind the world. But thank god now we are in the hands of sain government who knows how to handle Magots like you.
TEDDY and ment4you well said.
TEDDY, thank you for touching this important part of history. “Great Emperor was so smart that he had already send back to where they came from ,British so called investors ,ploting to occupy the fertile lands of Sidamo and more in the name of Building Railway.” This is a very well known history among my Oromo families.
No matter how much Woyane is working hard to destroy Ethiopia’s history, heritage and harmony the old Ethiopia will live within us and no one can take it away.
Woyane is only leaving a black mark in our history and will be remembered for its traitorous nature against our people and country.
Yes Ethiopia is on the right track in an exemplary developmental projects in all sectors.
Ethiopia is prospering and shall continue to prosper!
@ addis zereto and some of stupid out there we never heard you 1 day talk about our port of assab that stealing from Ethiopians by woyane dead leader and give to eritria .
if you call your self ethiopiawi stand for the truth and die .you know when it comes about assab 95% Ethiopians hurt deeply . Djibouti is not our port. assab is our clean sea port .that never ever was part of Eretria . specially addis gemat you always open your gematam mouth to any one if they stand against woyane . why ? one of this day watch you will cry none stop. coz you commited huge crime against all ethiopiawi . for your info woyane is done woyane days is just numbers .
Addis Fart and Co. the non-Ethiopian entities:
I understand you are clueless woyanes and shabians who recently moved to our capital city by accident.
But that does not mean history will be re-written based on your super hyped out of reality crap and just because your survival depends on TPLF and EFFORT looting money from Ethiopians.
History says your dead migit master was a friend in arms of sworn enemies of Ethiopia, the likes of EPLF and Issias. History says your dead loser master was responsible of the splitting of Ethiopia and handing out of land that belongs to us. History says he stayed by force from the start and even after losing the 2005 elections. History says he was a boneless servant of the west without whom he could not survive.
History will also say Ethiopia continued and will continue to grow despite looting fro TPLF and EFFORT thanks to diaspora and remittance money and the hardworking majority of Ethiopian people.
Now the glory days of Ethiopia remains to be the past, indisputable fact that you losers, with inferiority complex, can take to the bank!
Bank on this too….THE GLORY DAYS OF ETHIOPIA WILL BE RESTORED ONCE WE ELIMINATE TPLF AND EFFORT!
Ethiopian progress is suppressing to all of us living outside.
forward with comradde tamagne
Foreget Minilik and Haile Selasee, the fact that you attacked 700 years of history shows only one thing and that is inferiority complex!
Morons like you need to be stop crapping on your heads and start coming up with a valid argument.
Adgi Banda ,keep on your stupid Fairytale for yourself .Your GHOST TRAIN built by your Chinese Masters is aimed to enslave you and your bandit bosses to serve
them for centuries .Afterall even Camels and Dogs have more Dignities in the country than PARASITES like you and your Looter Bosses ….CHINESE STOOGE AMICHE BANDA !!!!!!!!!!
Sol ,twenty two years of your evil
master power have nothing brought to the majority of the Ethiopian Peoples more than the usual miseries .Wonder where the hell have you seen your so called clinics and hospitals where more than 95% of the peoples lack od proper medical services ,children suffering and even dying of malnutrition .You mean schools while children are here and there wandering in cities’ Streets or running into garbages in search for food .Dams where peoples ,even in Addis living Under candle lights .And so what afterall a government is here to assure the peoples with the proper public equipments whether roads ,schools ,Health centers ,markets ,Sport centers ,airports ,Electric power ,clean water services and more . Not being whorshiped for this or that as an Almighty God as
you and your Thuggy bros ‘ Thoughts concerning your evil master actually roting in hell . Hey Ye Agazew Temtamew ,what about your own Moron King Yohanes ,who officially declared himself as Qeen Victoria’s Barya by
finishing slaughtered at Metema for the sake of his British Masters .Not really ,as you and your bandit bosses are trying to fool peoples ,while fighting for the sovereignty of the country .
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