Ownership of the controversial building in the Arat Kilo neighborhood of Addis Ababa, located a couple of hundred meters south of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Parliament, has been transferred to the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia.
President of the Supreme Court, Tewodros Mihret, confirmed The Reporter’s inquiry about the plan to expand the Supreme Court’s office, which is currently situated around Sidist Kilo and is said to be insufficient for its needs.
He disclosed that a decision was made to give the Supreme Court a 17-storey under-construction building in the Arat Kilo neighborhood. However, he did not mention which one, saying he will make an official announcement “soon.”
Several sources at the Supreme Court confirmed to The Reporter that the building is the one located on General Wingate St. in the neighborhood of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Parliament, Abrehot Library, Friendship Park Phase Two, and several government offices, including the Ministry of Industry. The structural skeleton of the building is finalized as of now.
The Supreme Court’s years of effort under former president Meaza Ashenafi’s tenure to find a new headquarters did not bore fruit. Meaza was in negotiation with the Addis Ababa city government to find plot of land at Wollo Sefer, Bole district.
Initially intended to house the then Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) back in 2017, the construction was awarded for Tekleberhan Ambaye Construction Plc (TACON) with a total cost of 1.2 billion birr.
The building has been center of several controversial incidents since then, which began with the revocation of the contractor’s agreement by the Federal Building Construction Project Office due to delays. The Project Office oversees the construction of the federal government’s building properties under the Ministry of Urban and Infrastructure.
Following the demise of GCAO, ownership of the building was transferred to the now-split Ministry of Trade and Industry, with the Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation (ECWC) being awarded in 2021, to finish the construction at the initial value.
TACON’s contract was scrapped in November 2020, for which the Project Office requested its 241.4 million birr paid in advance as a result of delays and contract termination. The advance payment guaranteeing body, Enat Bank, and the Project Office are still going back and forth regarding the repayment of the money, sources at the Project Office disclosed.
In its effort to expand the office, the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also fell on this building, reaching the final stage of being the owner of the building, The Reporter learned.
However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) gave final approval for the Supreme Court’s ownership, ordering the Ministries of Finance and Urban & Infrastructure to speed up the remaining construction of the facility.
“We wanted to hold the information until an official announcement, but we had discussions and a building that is under construction around Arat Kilo was given to us,” Tewodros said, without giving a hint as to which one was the building.
The current headquarters of the country’s highest judicial court, a landmark two-storeys building by the Yekatit 12 Monument, was built during Emperor Haile Selassie’s regime on about 10,000sqm of land. The size of the land at its soon-to-be headquarters will be at least double, with the tallest building from the neighborhood standing in the middle. The fate of the current headquarter is unknown, once the Supreme Court HQ moves to Arat Kilo.
The President also disclosed that the land belonging to the Federal High Court to build a new headquarters is now in the possession of the Court. It was previously given and taken back after the Court finished preliminary work for the construction to start.
“Discussing with the concerned bodies after we came to office, we took the land back. We will also lay cornerstones for this and other buildings to begin construction this year,” he said.