Parliament expresses concern over low quality of Roads
The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) expressed its concern over the delay and low quality of road construction in Ethiopia in a session it held on November 24, 2020.
The House raised its concerns over several ongoing road construction projects in various parts of the country, which it said are becoming the source of recurring complaints and public outrage.
The House’s Standing Committee on Agriculture, Pastoralists, and Environmental Protection expressed its concerns while evaluating the quarterly performance report of the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) for the current Ethiopian budget year.
Lawmakers have called for consultants and contractors who do not comply with contractual agreements and those unable to deliver projects on schedule to be held accountable.
However, Director General of the Ethiopian Roads Authority, Habtamu Tegegne (Eng) refuted the MPs’ claims, explaining that awarding and managing road construction contracts is becoming tougher as numerous constraints including forex shortages, capacity of contactors, shortage of cement and many others pose a huge challenge to run things on schedule.
While explaining the troubles his office has to endure to see the completion of a road project, the director remarked: “we bargain with contractors to build roads and it is like a commodity transaction.”
He complained that his office is compelled by procurement provisions to grant contracts to the lowest bidder while quality requires better investment.
He remarked: “we know a certain contractor is not capable of constructing the project but we are forced to award that contractor the project anyway as long as they submit the lowest price. Hence, the Authority has time and again halted projects and ordered the rebuilding of hundreds of millions of birr worth of projects due to poor quality and delays.”
Habtamu stated that the construction sector needs wide ranging reform that is in line with the ongoing economic reform in the country.
He stated that improving the performance of the sector requires the involvement of the HPR to find a better way and make general adjustments; in that regard, he urged law makers to push for the involvement of the Ministries of Transport, Finance, and Construction.
According to Habtamu, the Authority is currently running 250 projects with a total cost of around 500 billion birr.