BY TESFANEWS *
The Ethiopian government has terminated its contract with Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) company, which is run by its military under the Ministry of Defence, from building the controversial $4 billion dam project on the River Nile due to numerous delays in completing the project.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused this military-linked company of lacking the relevant experience to work on the Grand Renaissance Dam project, which is mainly being built by an Italian firm Salini Impregilo.
METEC was the designated contractor for the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure divisions of the project.
PM Abiy, however, said METEC had not even seen a piece of infrastructure like the Grand Renaissance Dam, let alone built one.
The move against a firm which for years was run by retired military personnel is another sign that Mr. Abiy is not afraid to shake up the status quo with radical reforms.
The military has long been involved in Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy but the prime minister is changing that.
He has already replaced members of the METEC board and several of its industrial contracts have been cancelled, including sugar factory.
The government has touted the 6,000-megawatt dam project, which is 60 percent finished, as a symbol of its economic reforms.
“It is a project that was supposed to be completed within five years, but seven or eight years later not a single turbine is operational,” Abiy said during a news conference in Addis Ababa on Saturday.
“Salini has even demanded compensation because of the delays. We decided to cancel a contract with METEC and offer companies with experience. Otherwise, it will take even longer,” he said.
The previous TPLF-led government had said the dam would be completed within two years, but recently PM Abiy said it may not be finished in a decade.