South African firm wins bid to administer Ethio-Djibouti railway

A South African firm, COMAZAR, has won an international bid to administer the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Company, Ethiopia said Wednesday.

In a statement available to international media, Ethiopia's Ministry of Transport and Communications said Ethiopia and Djibouti reached an agreement to grant the administration of the Ethio-Djibouti railway to the South African firm with concession as the railway has failed to provide efficient services to commuters and cargo transport.

The 106-year-old railway line runs from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Over the years, the 1,000 km railway was jointly managed by France (later Djibouti) and Ethiopia.

COMAZAR will be authorized to operate the international railway for the next 25 years, defeating the Indian company RITE in a fierce bid battle, said the statement.

It said the joint council of the two countries led by Ethiopian Minister of Transport and Communication Juneidi Sado and Djiboutian Minister of Equipment and Transport Ismail Ibrahim Houmed recently approved the winner of the bid after thorough discussions.

The statement said further negotiations will be held between COMAZAR and a committee of experts selected from the two Horn of Africa countries.

COMAZAR, founded in 1995, has been active in at least 15 African countries and has established relations and partnerships for more than 10 years with both African and international investors, as well as with commercial banks and international lenders.

Moeletsi, younger brother of Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, is director of COMAZAR, which rehabilitates and grants concessions to railway networks in sub-Saharan Africa. He is also deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Once administered by COMAZAR, the railway is expected to be equipped with modern technology that will enable it to provide efficient services to commuters and raise its current cargo capacity of 240,000 tons per year to 1.5 million tons per year.

Source: Xinhua, Mar 30, 2006

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