Chinese-built rail puts Ethiopia on higher development track

For Muftah, a medical student in the city of Addis Ababa, getting to school used to take a lot of time and money, as traffic jams were an integral part of the chaotic city.

Now it takes less time to reach his school on the China-built light rail, and it’s also a more enjoyable journey. As Muftah explains,“The train cabins are clean and comfortable. I sometimes read books on the train.”

The 34.25-km light railway, with 39 stations across the city, was built by China Railway Engineering Corporation, which currently operates the rail together with the Shenzhen Metro Group, another Chinese company.

The railway transported some 129 million passengers between 2015 when it opened to traffic at the end of May 2018. It has reduced commuting expenses from 2 to 6 ETB ($0.07 to 0.14) for a one-way ticket, which is much lower than taking a taxi or even a bus.

“The railway has become a name card of Ethiopia. Its punctuality, safety, rapid speed and convenience have made it a first choice for Addis Ababa citizens. In addition to relieving traffic burden, the rail has also improved functions of the city, said Ethiopian Minister of Transport Workneh Gebeyehu.

The rail is also a symbol of friendship. The two Chinese companies have created a complete system for rail operation and management and transferred techniques and knowledge to the Ethiopian side according to the contract. For instance, local employees have now been trained to carry out most of the driving work.

The Chinese side have so far held 16 sessions of training on institution construction, 19 rounds of light rail technique training, compiled more than 200 supporting textbooks and launched a training system for the rail company.

Under the training, 791 Ethiopian students have obtained work qualification certificates.

An Ethiopian employee said he has learnt a lot from his Chinese co-workers, such as how to drive a train safely, and they have also built deep friendship and understanding while working together.

The railway has changed the development outlook of the city, said Wang Wei, general manager of Shenzhen Metro Group. Before the rail opened, the city’s nightlife ended around 8 p.m., but as the rail is now open until 10 p.m., shops and restaurants have since prolonged their opening hours.

After getting their first Pizza Hut restaurant because of the railway, the city is now welcoming another in a district along the railway.

Under the guidance of the Chinese, the Ethiopian transport authorities have compiled an enterprise standard system and an emergency rescue standard system.