By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 15, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Ethiopian Road and Transport Authority on Tuesday revealed that the construction of a highway linking Ethiopia with neighbouring Sudan has been completed and opened for traffic.
- A highway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa (Nasret)
Officials told Sudan Tribune that the 100km-long corridor, stretching from Ethiopia’s Asossa town to Kumruk will enhance trade relations as well as social ties between the two countries.
The construction of the project was executed by a Chinese construction company at a cost of over $27 million.
The completion of the road has also facilitated trade exchanges and cooperation between Sudanese and Ethiopian communities living along the common border.
Landlocked Ethiopia, according to officials, has so far managed to construct major highway that links it with five neighboring countries to boost trade relations and to get to access to the sea.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 leaving the latter with no access to the sea.
The lack of access to the sea has left a strong impact on Ethiopia’s economic, political, strategic interest and access to trade. This was made worse after Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a 1998-2000 border war that led to the closure of Ethiopia’s access to Eritrean ports.
Ethiopia’s access to sea depends upon Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, or Somalia.
Currently Ethiopia depends on Djibouti port for about 98% of its international trade.
To ease the high reliance on Djibouti, Ethiopia is now seeing other alternative routes to the sea. In 2005, Addis Ababa reached an agreement with neighbouring Somaliland - a region of Somalia that is agitating for independence - to access the Berbera port.
Ethiopia is also using Port Sudan after it built a highway that connects Ethiopia’s northern town of Metama with Port Sudan via Gedarif in eastern Sudan.
Currently there are over 200 road projects underway in Ethiopia.