The Ethiopian Customs Commission is set to erect a new headquarters in the center of Addis Ababa as the Ministry of Finance allots 60 million birr for the building design.
The Commission plans to set its head office on a 12,000 square meter plot in Woreda 10 of Kirkos Sub-city.
The plot is located directly across from the building currently serving as the Commission’s head office in the area commonly known as Meshualekia. The Commission pays close to 67 million birr each year in rental fees for the 15-storey building, according to Adugnaw Andualem, head of its organizational administration office.
“It has been a long time since we appealed to the Addis Ababa City Administration for land,” he said. “We had our eyes on the plot.”
The Kirkos Sub-city Woreda 10 Land Development and Management Office is gearing up to vacate the 92 households in the residential neighborhood to make way for the project.
On November 4, 2023, residents in the area awoke to notices on their front doors, calling for a discussion on the issues of relocation and compensation. The notices were put up on both public housing, colloquially known as “Yekebele Bet”, and private residences in the area.
“This is not the first time the city administration is telling us they need our compound for this or that development plan,” said a 50-year-old woman who has lived in the area for 30 years. “Many officials have come and gone telling us Meshualekia is to be demolished but nothing has ever happened.”
The officials seem more serious this time around, according to residents.
Although city officials refrained from setting a deadline for the looming relocation, they cautioned residents not to waste time, money and energy on house renovations or home improvement, the residents told The Reporter.
A total of 92 residents in the area are eligible for varying compensation packages, according to Abdela Shani, head of the Woreda’s Land Development and Administration Office.
The soon-to-be uprooted residents of public housing can choose to relocate to public housing elsewhere or to a two-bedroom condominium unit. The latter is an option open only to those who can afford the down payment on the unit.
In either case, the residents are also entitled to 85,000 birr in monetary compensation for transportation and relocation costs.
All public housing residents have submitted their preferences, according to Abdela.
The process with the private homeowners in the area is more complicated. Homeowners have a different set of compensation options available to them. They can choose to relocate to a similarly valued plot of land elsewhere in the city as well as receive monetary compensation for the demolition of their property.
The value of the compensatory plot is dependent on distance from the city center, and ease of access to basic infrastructure and services like water, electricity, and transportation.
The Woreda is yet to reach an agreement with the homeowners.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Customs Commission has already received a 60 million birr allotment to carry out the design of its marquee project.
“We will soon float a bid,” said Adugnaw.
He expects the design to be finalized before the end of the Ethiopian calendar year.