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A Joyous Day in East Africa as the Ethiopia-Djibouti Rail Connection Is Inaugurated

Oct. 5, 2016 (EIRNS)—Railway Gazette reports today on the inauguration of the 756-kilometer standard-gauge Chinese-built railway linking Ethiopia with Djibouti. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh officially inaugurated the linking of their countries with a ceremony in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, today.

"It is the first standard-gauge electrified railroad on the continent built with Chinese standards and technology, and certainly it will not be the last,"

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia La Yifan told media. "Many stand to benefit from it," the ambassador said in a widely covered statement.

Railway Gazette reported that

"the line is planned as the first step in a wider national and eventually regional rail network. In June 2012 the ERC [Ethiopian Railway Corp.] signed a $1.7 billion turnkey contract for Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi to build a 389 route-km line starting at Awash on the Djibouti-Addis Ababa line and running north to Weldiya/Hara Gebeya. Completion is planned for April 2018. China Communications Construction Co. is building the next 220 km north from Hara Gebeya to Mek’ele under a $1.5 billion contract. A line is also planned to run from Hara Gebeya eastwards to the port of Tadjurah in Djibouti, providing a second route to the sea."

Initially for three months the newly inaugurated railroad will be used for carrying freight only. Following that period, passenger service will be introduced. Last year, the industry journal reported, the line was used to bring wheat to drought-stricken areas south of the capital.

The new line is designed to China’s specifications for operation at up to 120 kph, providing a freight transit time of 10-12 hours, compared to two or three days by truck.

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