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NewsAdwa museum construction faces artistic delays ahead of AU summit

Adwa museum construction faces artistic delays ahead of AU summit

Sculptor unhappy with low-quality materials

Progress on the multi-billion birr ‘Adwa Zero Km’ museum project looks unlikely to meet Mayor Adanech Abiebie’s desire for inauguration ahead of the upcoming African Union summit as setbacks involving raw materials for decorative sculptures force delays.

The 4.6 billion birr mega-project initiated in 2019 will serve as a commemoration of the Victory of Adwa in the heart of Addis Ababa, and will feature a museum, commercial space, meeting halls and other amenities.

The project was initially slated for completion within two years, but faced delays related to COVID-19. The Mayor was hoping to see the project completed before mid-February 2024, when the African Union is scheduled to hold its 37th summit in Addis Ababa, but that, too, seems doubtful.

Chinese contractor Jiangsu was initially awarded the bid for construction on a 45,000 square meter plot in Piassa, which it in turn subcontracted out to Hobart, another Chinese contractor.

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Hobart then subcontracted artworks for the project to an Ethiopian sculptor named Yonas Mekwanent. Yonas is tasked with sculpting twelve Ethiopian cavalrymen and a relief to adorn the museum for the sum of 20 million birr.

However, Yonas quickly found that local markets do not offer the quality of materials, particularly fiberglass, he is looking for.

“If the sculpting is done with the local materials, it would not last long,” he told The Reporter. “Quality materials must be imported from China. These sculptures must be built to last for generations to come.”

As the City Administration piles on the pressure on the Chinese contractors to finalize the project before next month’s summit, the contractors are pressuring Yonas to finalize the sculptures using the materials he can find in the domestic market.

In a developing dispute, concerns have surfaced regarding the quality of sculptures in the Adwa Museum, part of the Adwa Zero km mega project in Addis Ababa.

The commissioned Chinese contractor, responsible for the 4.6 billion birr museum, is at odds with sculptor Yonas over the material used for the project.

Yonas, the subcontractor entrusted with creating sculptures for the museum, expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of materials provided by the Chinese contractor.

The project has also raised eyebrows at the Ethiopian Association of Painters and Sculptors, which claims it has been sidelined in the project.

Debo Tunka (Eng.), head of the Addis Ababa Mega-projects Bureau, did not respond to inquiries from The Reporter before this edition went to print.

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