Delayed Rail Academy Begins to Fall into PlaceThe railway academy will enroll 900 trainees a year

For the construction of the nations first-ever railway academy, the Ethiopian Railway Corporation compensated 150 farmers with 65 million Br to relocate from their land.

To rest on 60ha of land, the academy will be located in Bishoftu, 45Km southeast of Addis Abeba. The Corporation also plans to compensate the remaining six farmers residing on the land in the coming two weeks.

Planned four years ago, the project was delayed, since securing the land was the major challenge for the Corporation, according to Yehualaeshet Jemere, deputy CEO of the Corporation in charge of rail network division.

The feasibility study for the construction of the railway academy was completed in 2014.

Securing the land was one of the major challenges, Yehualaeshet said.

Located adjacent to Bishoftus railway tracks, the academy will be a Technical Education, Vocational & Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) centre and offer a first-degree level.

Expected to begin in two months time, the construction will take two years to complete. It will have classrooms, a laboratory, railway tracks, tunnels, a playground, a dormitory and a cafeteria.

For the construction of the academy, the Chinese government granted the Corporation 60 million dollars. The academy will have an enrollment capacity of 900 trainees a year.

The World Bank has also provided 13 million dollars for the construction of an additional laboratory, curriculum development and capacity building training for trainers. Half of World Banks funding is in the form of a grant, while the remaining is a concessional loan.

The academy aims to address the need for skilled manpower in the rail transport sector, said Yehualaeshet. The academy will also train professionals from East African countries.

The country has been sending students to get training abroad in the past.

China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, a company that was founded in September 1952 and has headquarters in Chengdu, will supervise the construction of the academy.

Training ranging from construction to operation of the railway system will be provided by the academy. The duration of the training will depend on the curriculum, but most last from six months up to a year.

As soon as we secured the land from Bishoftu City Administration, we notified the Chinese government to start the construction, said Yehualaeshet.

The academy will train professionals for the country, which already has two operational railways, Addis Abeba Light Rail Transit and Ethio-Djibouti Railway. The former gives service for 120,000 people a day and earned three million dollars during the first nine months of the past fiscal year by transporting 29 million passengers using 41 light trains.

The latter was constructed by China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. It was inaugurated in October 2017. It has 1,100 rolling stock, of which 41 are locomotives with motors used for pulling the train.

Eshetie Berhan (PhD), a lecturer for nearly two decades at the Addis Abeba Institute of Technologys School of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, says that the construction of the academy is delayed.

The Corporation shouldnt only focus on physical infrastructure. Rather, it has to focus on implementing the strategic document practically, Eshetie said. If the project is completed in the time frame, it will help in producing professionals in the railway sector.

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