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Addis Ababa City Merges River Revitalization Projects

(BY BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE) Addis Abeba City Administration will cancelled a tender floated for the rehabilitation of Banteyiqetu River, which stretches from Urma Garage to Afincho Ber. The project will instead be integrated into the Entoto Tourist Destination Development Project.

The project integration was decided by the Board of River Basins & Green Areas Agency, following a meeting with Deputy Mayor Takele Uma on October 19, 2018. This came after China Communications Construction Company made the lowest offer of 600 million Br.

“Effective utilisation of resources and avoiding overlap are the major reasons for the merger of the two projects,” said Sileshi Degefa (PhD), CEO of the Agency.

The integration of the Banteyiqetu project into that of Entoto brings the aggregate cost to 5.6 billion Br, with a completion date of two years.

The Board, which consists of the mayor, artists, professors from the Addis Abeba University, president of the Architects’ Association and the Tourism Bureau, decided to form a coordinating committee to follow-up on the redesign process.

A partial view of the future Orma Garage-Afenchober public recreational park to be constructed by the Addis Abeba Rivers, Riversides Development Project Office.

The parameters of the redesign process will be decided during a meeting that will be held by the Board within three months.

“Consultants that had worked on the projects will be encouraged to participate in future tenders as they will have deep knowledge of the project,” Sileshi says.

Blue Matrix Consultancy in association with Image Consultancy had signed the deal with the Riverside Project Office last year in November 2017, to supervise the river revitalisation project extending from Urma Garage to Kechene for 10.2 million Br. Meanwhile, Image left the project early, and Blue Matrix completed the design and construction documents for the first phase.

Similarly, the Entoto tourist destination development project was in the process of hiring HSS Consultancy, a Malaysian company who passed the technical evaluation. But the bidding process was cancelled due to the merger of the projects.

The Agency, established in July 2018, oversees, coordinates and controls six project offices including Gulele Botanical Garden, Addis Zoo Park Centre, River & Riverside Development Project Office, Entoto & its Surrounding Tourist Destination Development Project Office and the Addis Abeba Parks Development Project Office.

The goal of the agency is to raise per capita green area to three percent by 2020, from the current one percent.

“To reach the world standard of nine percent, it needs an extensive effort of all the stakeholders in developing all 76 rivers and small tributaries that cover around 600Km,” Sileshi said.

The River & Riverside Development Project Office, established in December 2016 to develop and revitalise the city’s rivers and riversides, believes that the Bantyeqetu project has undergone a great deal of processes from study to contractor selection and that it would be a waste of time to undertake a redesign.

“Our stand is to continue with the project on the pipeline, at the same time integrating it with the Entoto project office,” said Debela Biru, deputy CEO of the Project Office.

The Entoto project was launched in 2016 with the objective of conserving the ecosystem of Entoto and the surrounding forested area, soil conservation, construction of lodges and resorts, athletics training centre, construction of a 500m-high city tower and cable car as well as a cultural centre.

For this project, 4,135ha of land is allocated by the city administration out of which 1.1pc of it will be used for the construction of tourist attraction projects, while the remaining plots will be occupied by vegetation, soil conservation and preservation of wildlife.

For Teshome Soromessa, chairman of the Centre for Environmental Science and associate professor at Addis Abeba University, developing the whole stretch from Entoto to Sheraton Urma Garage is costly, because the geographical setup of the land above Afincho Ber is steep and full of tributaries.

“The project at Entoto also needs an extensive amount of flat area, which can destroy the surrounding forest if cautious decisions are not taken,” he said.

Top picture: Kefale Alemu and Tsegaw Nadew on Merhabete, River Jema and its Magnificent Landscape in Ethiopia

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