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27 June 2019

Ethiopia’s new tolled highway opens

First published27/06/2019
Ethiopia is now benefiting from a new tolled route, improving transport between Dire Dawa and Dewele. The new two lane road has taken four years to construct and is Ethiopia’s second toll road to be completed. Measuring 220km in length, the asphalt-surfaced road follows the route of the old gravel road between the city of Dire Dawa and the town of Dewele. Dire Dawa is linked to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa by the A10 route and as Dewele lies close to the border with Djibouti, this new link will also help develop trade. The new road features 29 bridges and gives vital access for landlocked Ethiopia to the port of Djibouti. By comparison, the previous gravel road was in poor connection and users suffered regular delays due to flooding and landslides. Even when the old road was passable it could take users 10 hours to drive the route, whereas the new road cuts the journey time to just four hours.

The project has cost around US$179 million to complete, with 85% of the funding being provided by a loan from China’s Exim Bank and the remaining 15% being provided by the Ethiopian Government. Construction was carried out by the Chinese contractor CGCOC Group, which has previously carried out other projects in the region such as the Nile River Bridge. Consulting work for the Dire Dawa to Dewele road project was carried out by the Chinese firm Shandong Great Supervision and Consultation Co.

The project was originally planned for completion in 2018 but suffered a number of delays. The three toll booths as well as  a number of access roads have still to be completed however.

Ethiopia’s first tolled highway to open to traffic was the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway. This route took five years to build and features three lanes in either direction. It is managed by the state-owned Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprises, which will also take over operation of the Dire Dawa to Dewele road. Toll charges for the new road have yet to be set.

This new road and the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway form part of a wider programme of road development for Ethiopia, the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP II).

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