China Road and Bridge Corporation, CRBC, Likely to Clinch Biggest Ever Road Construction Contract

By Dawit Taye
Jan. 28, 2013

Authority plans to invite exclusively Chines contractors

Another Chinese-based construction company operational in Ethiopia – China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – has become an overwhelming favorite to snatch the 2.6 billion birr interchange and roundabout project that is expected to complement the Light Railway Transit (LRT) project in Addis Ababa.

Currently, Addis Ababa City Administration and the federal government, joint financiers of the interchange and roundabout project, are selecting potential contractors fit to complete the mammoth construction work within the set deadline. Hence, from a pool of local contractors, CRBC appears to be making more sense as having the capacity to undertake a project of this degree, Fekade Haile (Eng.), general manager of Addis Ababa City Road Authority (AACRA), told The Reporter. Nevertheless, he noted that other companies would also be contacted to express their interest in the project. “We are also looking into Chinese contractors which are not currently working in Ethiopia. I do not think there will be adequate experience and capacity to undertake a project of this caliber among the local contractors,” he explained.

The LRT stretching for a total of 34.35 km has two primary routes, one running from the north to the south of the city while the other connects the east and the west, both covering equivalent distances. According to the plan, the north-south route starts from the St. George Church around Piazza and ends at the Southern limits of the city near Kality. Similarly, the east-west part covers the distance between the Ayat neighborhood to the East all the way to the Armed Forces Specialized Hospital in the West. The design of the LRT project stipulates that there will be 20 overpasses along both routes, of which six will have major roundabouts. According to the GM, these major roundabouts will have some basic underground construction works that must be done carefully. This means that the project will have some three thousand meter wide concrete walls to be constructed at the end of the day. Hence, Fekade says that the project requires seasoned foreign contractors with practical experience in the game.

Thus far, the plan is to invite selected contractors to submit their contract quotation for this projects and as per the explanations of the GM, the pool of the companies has been narrowed down to Chinese origin. Furthermore, AACRA seems to have set its eyes on the CRBC to take over the project. CRBC has quite an impressive resume in Ethiopia. It is known for completing the Addis Ababa ring road project and other major infrastructural projects during the last 10 years it has been operational in the country.

It is also to be remembered that another Chinese company that is undertaking the main LRT project – China Railway Engineering Group Limited (CREC) – has expressed concerns about the sluggish move of the interchange road construction project. The company noted at the time that the two-year completion timetable will not be feasible. According to the tentative timetable, the two, the LRT and interchange, should be completed around the same time. Among the main challenges of the interchange project is relocating the city’s water pipelines, which comes in contact with the project.

So far, the biggest urban road project in the country is the Bole road renovation, which was estimated to cost 1.08 billion birr. However, with its overall estimated cost of 2.6 billion birr, the interchange is expected to be the biggest.