The 756km Chinese-built Addis Ababa–Djibouti electric railway will commence operations in September, an Ethiopian official said.
“We have completed 95 per cent of the project. We are waiting for allocation of electricity for the line and will start full operation in September,” said Mr Getachew Betru, the CEO of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation.
The line is expected to boost trade by reducing the goods movement duration from two days to eight hours.
Currently, hundreds of trucks transport goods between the Red Sea port of Djibouti and Addis Ababa, taking a total of four days for a round trip.
The $3 billion railway is financed by the Export-Import Bank of China.
The line covers 656km from Addis Ababa to the Dewale border town, with the other 100km stretching to Djibouti’s Doraleh port.
Mr Getachew also said that other electric railway line linking the north and the northeast Ethiopia with Djibouti’s Tajura port, was 30 per cent complete.
The Ethiopian Railway Corporation also plans to increase the 32km Addis Ababa city light railway to 100km in next five years.
Mr Getachew was defending the performance of the corporation which in the Auditor-General’s report is criticised for using additional funds without notifying the Finance ministry, poor documentation and for implementing projects before conducting environmental impact assessment, among others.
However, the corporation officials cited the urgency and the complexity of the projects as well as lack of previous experience in their defence.