Finance proves crucial as oil tankers go unused

About 100 tankers of Ethio-Djibouti Share company stay unused for their primary purpose for years as construction to connect Awash depot with the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway remains far from completion owing to lack of finance.
“We have about 100 tankers with a capacity handling of around 70,000 liters, while a single fuel tanker can manage the capacity of two fuel trucks,” stated Ethio-Djibouti Railway General Director Tilahun Sarka as he explained how the tankers have not been used for their primary purpose of transporting oil due to lack of connection with the oil depots including Awash depot.
The project which was started at the beginning of 2021 was expected to be completed in one year to which China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation CCECC was awarded by Ethiopian Railways Corporation for the design and construction of Awash Oil Depot Link Rail Connection and Unloading Facilities.
“The lack of finance has halted the project on its tracks,” said Tilahun adding, “Even though Awash depot has been operational for years, the line connecting the railway with Awash depot is yet to be completed. We brought the tankers targeting Awash depot, so we have to patiently wait for its connection.”
The project which is located in Afar regional state at Awash Sebat has a total cost of close to 55 million dollars which is to be covered by the Government of Ethiopia.
Currently, the two ports in Djibouti that serve the multipurpose and containerized cargo have already been connected to the main railway line, while Horizon, which is about 2 km from the main line is not connected. As Tilahun explains, the Djibouti government has shown willingness to connect the railway with the port as soon as Ethiopia completes connecting Awash Depot with the Railway.
“Sometimes we use these tankers to transport water for employees in the railway,” he said showing the secondary use for the tankers. For the single tanker the company had to part ways with USD 100,000 to acquire them.
Awash petroleum depot is a hub for the national fuel import,and despite it being close to the Ethio- Djibouti railway line it still uses trucks to store the product imported from Djibouti. “If we connect the line with Awash we could easily transport fuel to the country from the fuel port in Djibouti,” Tilahun emphasized.
The project which includes the construction of a new Awash Oil Depot link rail connection and unloading facilities is set to establish a connection between the oil depot and Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway.
The contract was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), while China International Engineering Consulting Corporation was brought on board as the consulting firm.
If completed the project is said to reduce traffic congestion along the Ethio-Djibouti road by creating an additional option to Ethiopia to use rail transport besides trucks to carry fuel from the port of Djibouti.
Ethiopia uses the port of Djibouti as a gateway for its 95% of fuel import. The project when complete will also help the country to smoothly transport fuel from Awash depot to the central parts of the country.

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