Authorities finally edge closer to hiring contracts to refurbish the jubilee palace situated along Yohannes avenue. Constructed during the period of Emperor Haileselassie I, it is among a list of projects championed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to make the capital city an urban tourist hub.
Funded by the French Development Agency (AFD), about USD 22.8 million (over one billion Br based on current market price) has been allotted for the project. It was a commitment made during the official visit of Emmanuel Macron, President of French government, almost two and half years ago, a month after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office.
While the National Palace Administration is in charge of the project, it is also supported by Expertise France, a French Public Agency. Over a dozen of bidders have shown interest to participate in the tender, which will be floated once the Administration reviews proposal of prospective bidders. The move comes after the Administration called for application, which stayed for almost a month and closed two weeks ago.
While the restoration project is divided into three lots, six companies have applied for the second and third lot, which involve the refurbishment of the landscape, fence, gate, sanitary and electrical works of the palace, in addition to the construction of a new building with a commercial space for ticketing, cafeteria and shopping, security checkpoints, and resting areas for visitors. The imperial car collection will also be renovated under these two lots.
Though the first lot was floated almost a year ago, the Administration had to announce another call for application as none of the bidders meet the requirements needed to renovate electrical, safety and fire security aspects of the restoration project. The first lot also involves creating space for museography of the Palace.
Serving as residence for heads of state, the jubilee palace will be open for public once the construction is completed. “Though it seems a tight schedule, the plan is to complete the restoration project in one year,” said a Senior Official of the Administration, whose name has been withheld upon request.
Experts welcomed the move.
“As the capital has a few attraction sites, it will be a game-changing project once it is open for public,” said Mike Melesse, a landscape designer and urban planner with over a decade of experience. He added that it will turn a lost opportunity into a meaningful outcome for the tourism sector.
He recommends authorities simultaneously avert challenges faced by tourists in the capital, including pick-pocketing.
“The administration must address challenges faced by tourists as they walk towards the palace from nearby hotels and anywhere from the capital,” the expert added.
Built with a cost of five billion Birr, Unity Park is among projects delivered under the administration of Abiy in a bid to boost proceeds from urban tourism. Despite the impacts of the Coronavirus on the commercial activities of the park, it has been visited by over half a million people since its opening almost two years ago.