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Railway Maintenance Depot at Risk of Machine Failure

Millions of dollars worth of machines procured by the Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) for Komobolicha-Hara Gebeya Project are deteriorating due to the absence of electricity infrastructure.

The machines were meant to be tested last year and collectively make-up four maintenance workshops and depots in Ethiopia. The depots and the workshops, under the ownership of the ERC, are located at Awash, Shewarobit, Kombolcha, and Hara Gebeya.

Containing 183 types of 701 project equipment and machines, the maintenance depots and workshops were expected to save extra costs by overhauling and repairing trains. The Kombolcha workshop and Depot is the largest, lying on 22 hectares of land with a capacity of serving 20 freight and six passenger trains.

“Since trains need serious attention and checking in every trip, such types of depots will minimize not only the cost but time too,” Abdulkerim Mohammed(Eng.), the Project Manager of Awash Kombolcha Hara Gebeya Railway Project, told The Reporter.

Abdulkerim said that “The machines were imported for the workshop and the depot, but as they have not been in use for over a year, it might no longer be functional after fixing.

The Equipment and machines found in the depot were warranted when they were procured by the contractor with a finance cover by ERC. However, the expiry date for the warranty period beckoned after it was procured.

“This is concerning and if the warranty period expires, we need to pay additional forex for maintenance,” Abdulkerim added.

Launched in February 2015, the Awash Woldia/Hara Gebeya Railway project is being constructed in two phases at a cost of USD1.7 billion. Upon completion, it will have a length of 390 kilometers. Adding station lines and the maintenance lines, the length of its total line is approximately 425 kilometers.

While YapiMerkezi has been contracted to construct the railway, SYSTRA, an Indian firm, is the supervisor of the project.

The first phase of Awash-Kombolcha-Hara Gebeya Railway Project is already completed, while 80 percent of the second phase construction has been finalized. Although the project is ready for operation with a central control system from Kombolicha, this is yet to be realized due to absence of electricity infrastructure.

“Even though we are ready to begin testing machines and equipment, power supply has prevented us from doing so. Now we are not even sure whether they still function or not,” Abdulkerim said. He added: “Immediately after we get electricity, we can begin testing and run the trains.”