After realizing the Addis Ababa Light Railway Transit and the 760km cross-country rail infrastructure that links Ethiopia with the port outlet at Djibouti, the Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) is now moving to setup a Railway Academy with an estimated cost of USD 300 million to provide adequate railway professional to run the billion dollars infrastructure.
Out of the total estimated cost needed to establish the academy, the corporation has secured the USD 14.5 million in funding from the government of China, last week.
The Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchawo has signed the funding agreement last week while he was conducting an official visit in Addis Ababa.
The funding obtained from China is only for the first phase, Dereje Tefera, communication manager of ERC told The Reporter. According to him, another agreement has also been reached with the Government of China to fund the next phase of the project. The government will also have a share in covering the remaining cost of the project which, according to Dereje, will be determined at a later date.
Currently, ERC’s management has been working on drafting training curriculums and outlining the academy’s design as well as selecting a suitable location for the academy.
According to Dereje, the academy will be constructed outside of Addis Ababa along the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line. Some places along the railway line has been identified as potential sites for the training academy and decision will be made soon after assessing costs related with compensation to relocate residents and properties on the ground, he said.
When completed, the academy will be equipped with state-of-the art rail simulators, signaling equipments and maintenance facilities where short term trainings up to a period of one year will be provided.
The short term trainings that will be provided includes, signaling techniques and rail traffic management, rail maintenance, train masters and other related trainings.
By establishing the academy, ERC primarily intends to answer its own growing demand of skilled manpower for the already operational Addis Ababa Light Railway mass transport service and for the Addis Ababa – Djibouti railway transport currently undertaking operational test.
ERC has contracted the operation and maintenance of Addis Ababa Light Railway mass transportation for two Chinese firms, Shenzhen Metro Group and CREC. The two firms will manage the operation and maintenances, respectively for the duration of three years. The two firms are also responsible to provide on job trainings for 252 Ethiopians who were trained in China for a period of one year as train masters, maintenance technicians, signaling technicians and hostess. According to the operation and maintenance management contract ERC will pay an aggregate of USD 110 million for the two Chinese companies.
ERC has spent USD 250 million to train the 252 Ethiopians at a Railway institute in China.
Establishing the academy will therefore reduce a huge amount of foreign currency expenditure for ERC which requires more than 2000 trained staffs to operate the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway service alone.