The Bus Rapid Transit project has been delayed for over a decade
Officials from the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) and the French Agence française de développement (AFD) have begun discussions to restart the long-delayed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Addis Ababa.
The project, which aims to establish a 19-kilometer network of bus lanes in the city, is intended to alleviate traffic congestion. City authorities designed the BRT system over a decade ago to provide a more efficient transportation system for residents.
The estimated cost of the BRT project is EUR 150 million, with the AFD agreeing to contribute EUR 85 million. The remaining funding was expected to come from the Addis Ababa City Administration. A loan agreement with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance was signed in December 2014, but the project has made no progress since.
French Ambassador to Ethiopia Rémi Maréchaux says the project is on track, stating, “As I speak, the tender for civil works has been released. We are waiting for responses from civil engineering companies.”
Both the Authority and the embassy confirmed to The Reporter that construction is planned to begin before the end of 2023.
However, Maréchaux says project financing will depend on the government demonstrating it has the budget to cover its expected remaining contribution.
The BRT project concept was originally proposed in response to Addis Ababa’s rapid urbanization and growing population. The aim was to implement a modern mass transit system that could accommodate the city’s increasing daily commuter traffic.
The original plans included a 19.2 kilometre network of dedicated bus lanes, modern bus stations, and efficient ticketing systems.
ACCRA initially contracted Razel-Bec, a French contractor, to carry out construction work. However, Razel decided not to proceed, leading to further setbacks and delays, Iyasu Solomon, public relations officer of the Addis Ababa Roads Authority said.
According to sources, disagreements between Razel-Bec and city authorities resulted in the termination of the contract and work stoppage on the project. As a result, the French Development Agency suspended loan disbursements as stipulated in their agreement, which only requires funding to be provided while a contractor is performing the work.
Despite the challenges, there has been some construction progress, according to Iyasu.
“The Authority has successfully paved three kilometres of the BRT road, covering the stretch from Jomo 2 Square to Jomo Michael Square,” Iyasu told The Reporter.