BY SIMON WELDEMICHAEL | SHABAIT
Road transport is one of the oldest and most used forms transport systems in Eritrea. It plays an important role in the economic development and national integration of the country. Transport infrastructure is a basic prerequisite for economic growth and human wellbeing.
Since independence, Eritrea has been investing massively in rehabilitating and constructing transport infrastructure. The resulting expansion of seasonal and permanent road network across the country has been identified as one of the major achievements of the government.
Infrastructure includes roads, railways, airports, dams, irrigation networks, water pipes, power plants and distribution networks, etc. Infrastructures are capital goods that are not consumed directly. Rather, in combination with labor and possibly other inputs, they provide services.
After the signing of peace and friendship agreement with Ethiopia, the government of Eritrea has taken initiative to upgrade the basic infrastructures of the country that was devastated by war.
Roads improve connectivity, promote trade and improve relationships among people. As part of the coordinated efforts to improve the quality of life of the people, the government of Eritrea has been committed to the development and improvement of a well-connected road networks and other kinds of transport infrastructures which are seen as fundamental to the country’s development.
To eradicate poverty and to secure sustainable development, Eritrea’s development strategy includes the development of human resources, agriculture, infrastructure, and rural development. During the last 27 years of independence, there has been steady progress in the provision of services in education, health care and transportation.
Prof. Abraham Kidane, an economic adviser at the Ministry of National Development, has pointed out that road infrastructure shows an enormous 195% increase as of 2015, and buses used for public transportation in rural areas increased from 267 in 1991 to 1,769 in 2015, which is a 562% increase.
Like a foundation of a building, transport infrastructure is crucial for a nation’s overall development. A sound transport infrastructural foundation is a key to the overall socio-economic and political development of a country. It acts as a magnet attracting investment, both local and foreign direct investments.
In the past twenty years, Eritrea’s progress has been deterred in the face of TPLF’s aggression and the international community’s utter failure to shoulder its responsibility. The conditions became dreadful when the Security Council imposed an unjust, baseless and politically motivated sanction on Eritrea that lasted for ten years. The sanctions were in place until November 2018 to punish Eritrea unreasonably.
Ethiopia’s belligerence and the international community’s prejudice created enormous pressure on Eritrea, which few peoples and governments can withstand. Eritrea deserves compensation for all the conspiracies orchestrated against it. There is a need for increasing funds from the international community to assist the country’s efforts to rehabilitate its war-damaged infrastructure and heal its sanction-wounded economy.
Understanding the importance of roads, the government of Eritrea has allocated a lot of its capital and human resource for the expansion and renovation of roads. The government recognizes the importance of an extensive network of well-maintained roads to connect communities, promote rural development and tourism, provide access to markets and to increase connectivity with neighboring countries, notably Ethiopia.
The ongoing construction and renovation of strategic roads that link Eritrea with Ethiopia is an indication of Eritrea’s commitment to peace and regional integration.
The strategic Nefasit – Dekemhare – Serha road, the Dekemhare – Teraemni road, and Adiquala – Endagergis all the way to Mereb are completely renovated and expanded, ready to give fast and safe transport service. These roads are major lines of transport in Eritrea that would allow development and the delivery of resources to urban and rural areas as well as connect Eritrea with neighboring countries.
Self-reliance in all fields has been a basic principle of Eritrea. During the liberation struggle for independence we succeeded because we planned according to our own experience and conditions without expecting solutions from outside.
This revolutionary tradition has been adopted successfully after independence. All of the development projects including roads, railways, airports, schools, clinics, dams and irrigation schemes are accomplished based on self-reliance and the full participation of our people. The extensive renovation and expansion of the major roads is being undertaken by local construction companies. Eritrean defense forces have now turned to development workers who are committed to rehabilitating the country by shedding their sweat. They are working day and night to complete the development projects all over the country.
Road transportation is the vein in the life of a nation. The production and distribution of goods and services wouldn’t happen without efficient transportation facilities. Production without distribution is good for nothing. Social justice, which is the core idea of Eritrea, could have been impossible without elaborate and extensive network of transportation. Road construction and reconstruction is thought to improve access to schools, health services and other social services. Trade and economic links within the country and outside its borders are impossible without roads. Transport also enhances peace, security and stability. The contribution of transportation to national security, national integration of various groups and peace consolidation is paramount.
Building strong infrastructure is one of the seventeen sustainable development goals that the world is seeking to achieve by 2030. Road transportation is an enabler of development in various ways. Helped by the elaborate road transport and other infrastructures laid, Eritrea is confident to meet the Sustainable Development Goals ahead of time.
The transport and communication infrastructure established in the past 27 years of independence have practically transformed the lives of the Eritrean people. The seasonal and regular roads constructed by the Warsay- Yikealo development campaign enabled remote villages to be connected with one another and also connect with towns and cities.
The many roads and telecommunication facilities available throughout the country tackled marginalization and narrowed the gap between the center and periphery. Thanks to the extensive network of roads and communication facilities, Eritrea is now becoming ever more interconnected.
Roads connect Eritrea with all its neighboring countries, and the road that connects Eritrea and Ethiopia is a road that would take the two countries to prosperity and harmony. It will contribute substantially to peace building and encourage trans-border trade and economic connection.
In short, road transport holds an important place in Eritrea’s national development planning and regional peace.