EU, IGAD, ETHIOPIAN ROAD COMMISSION & SOMALILAND ROAD AGENCY OFFICIALS BRAIN STORMING DURING THE MEETING
By Goth Mohamed Goth
The Minster of National planning Dr. Sacad Ali Shire opened the second meeting of the Regional Steering Committee tasked with overseeing the construction and doing feasibility studies of the Berbera corridor which currently serves both land-locked Ethiopia and Somaliland and has the potential to become a regional trade hub was held today at the Ambassador Hotel, Hargeisa.
Regional Steering Committee is head by Prof Hassan Ali Osman who heads Somaliland Road Authority and Mr. Fuad Ahmed Hussein, the personal advisor of the Minister of Public works is comprised of two officials from the EU, one from IGAD, Ethiopian Road Commission representative and, Ministry of National planning and the Berbera Port Authority officials.
Dr. Sacad Ali Shire speaking at the meeting said, “On behalf of the people of Somaliland I do hereby extend our appreciation to the committee for the hard work and progress that they have achieved in the last 14 years, we all know that Somaliland and its neighbors stand to benefit from this joint venture and once upon the completion it will change the economics of the whole region.
The Team had previously assessed the condition of the road links between Berbera and Addis Ababa, the Berbera port facilities, the Hargeisa and Berbera Airports and established current and future demand. Although current demand along the corridor is relatively average it’s expected to change in the near future, the consultants anticipated that reconstruction of the area and the growing export of livestock will encourage increased traffic. The Team also compared the costs and advantages of Ethiopia using the port of Berbera with those of competing ports, including Djibouti, Assab, Massawa, Mombassa and Port Sudan.
Once the demand studies were completed, specialists prepared recommendations for the improvement of the corridor transportation networks, including upgrading the Harar-Jijiga and Jijiga-Togochale roadways in Ethiopia and bridging of several flood channels.
The second phase of the project is to evaluate the cost and the scope of the work which required for the construction of the transport corridor which extends from Berbera –Tog wajaale which is expected to commence in June, 2014 and the awarding of the constructing contract to a suitable firm.
The Berbera – Hargeisa -Addis Ababa transport corridor is expected to be a major catalyst for trade and economic development. To support these objectives, the EU has appointed GAUFF Consultants to assess the feasibility of upgrading the port and transportation links supporting it, including the Berbera Corridor Highway, the Berbera and Hargeisa Airports and the Ethiopia-Somaliland border crossing facilities.
The improvement of this international trade route provides significant potential for increased revenues to both Somaliland and Ethiopia. To foster and monitor this trade, team had also evaluated the current capacity of the customs system and prepared recommendations to reduce smuggling between Ethiopia and Somaliland and streamline customs procedures. Among the recommendations, Team members suggested the revision of tariffs to meet current changes in the market value of goods and the use of pre-shipment inspections for higher valued items. The Team then assisted customs officials in establishing separate procedures for goods in transit and drafted improved enforcement regulations.