Ethiopia, China premiers inaugurate Addis-Adama Expressway

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Addis Ababa, 6 May 2014 (WIC) – Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang inaugurated Ethiopia’s first expressway connecting Addis Ababa to the city of Adama in Oromia region.
The 84.7 km long and 31 meters wide expressway is the first toll road in the country and will prove vital in alleviating some of the transportation malaise in one of the nation’s busiest routes.
As part of the route to the port of Djibouti, the six-lane road will also play a key role in fostering the import and export business.
Built by the China Communications and Constructions Company under the consultancy of Beijing Expressway, the road took 11.2 billion birr and four years to complete. The bulk of the project fund (57 percent) is a loan from the EXIM bank of China. 
“This is a practical example that the China-Ethiopia relation is built on a strong foundation,” Prime Minister Hailemariam said during the inauguration, which was attended by senior government officials from both countries.
Hailemariam said the government intends to extend the road to Awash Arba in Afar regional state, some 240 km east of the capital Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) had announced in March the launching of two road projects covering 28.1km linking the eastern and western part of Addis Ababa to the expressway.
ERA is also looking to secure finance for the 218km Modjo-Hawassa four-lane highway, which will be built in four phases.  The authority has secured finance from the African Development Bank for the first phase project - a 56-km Modjo-Meki road which will be linked to the Addis-Adama expressway.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Hailemariam hailed the “huge contributions” of the late former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony in April 2010 to get the Addis-Adama expressway project going.
He also expended his thanks to the project owner – Ethiopian Roads Authority, the Chinese contractor, the over 5000 workers and regional authorities who contributed for the timely completion of the expressway.
On the second day of his visit to Ethiopia the Chinese PM Li Keqiang visited several construction projects being undertaken by Chinese contractors. At the inauguration ceremony, Li said he has witnessed how Ethiopia is transforming itself with various infrastructure projects.
The Addis-Adama expressway, which will reduce the travel time from Addis to Adama by almost an hour and half to just 45 minutes, is expected to be open for traffic within a month. Once the road opens for traffic, drivers are expected to drive at a designated speed limit of 100 to 120km/hr.
The busy route accommodates as much as 20,000 vehicles per day. The road has 43 overpasses and 34 underpasses with six interchanges.
The road features two-meter wide fenced road divider harboring vegetation and a guard rail as long as the road preventing people and cattle from encroaching. The road also has unique features as a bus bay and some 60 surveillance cameras.   
Ethiopian Roads Authority is in the process of setting up an enterprise to administer the expressway, it was announced.