By Mela Ghebremedhin | Shabait,
Easing the burden of road traffic in major cities are critical elements in ensuring safety, environment and economic productivity. Indeed, most of major cities in the world suffer from traffic congestion and pollution while being time consuming for commuters. Nairobi, Lagos or Johannesburg are examples of such congestion in Africa.
The lack of infrastructure, well-maintained roads combined with mounting population in urban settings are all factors of road congestion. Eritrea isn’t immune of such situation and it is starting to show signs of road traffic issues in its capital city Asmara.
Without doubt, the increasing numbers of cars, taxis and buses taking over the streets of the city cannot be denied. However, with the new development and the booming mining sectors, trucks from the mining companies, heavy machineries and other means of transportation are circulating through the asphalted roads linking Massawa, Asmara – Keren as well as Tesseney.
However, “there have been long experiences learned and evaluation taken over the years, the issue isn’t the road but the type of vehicles using it” said, Lt. Col. Engineer Getachew Merhatzion, Head of Mapping and Cartography Center. In fact, the initial construction of these roads were not planned for such heavy circulation and type of vehicles.
In context, one of the key elements to development is transportation and infrastructure and with this in mind, in the early years of independence, the number of asphalted roads increased. In fact, in 1991, only about 4,000km roads were asphalted compared to 14,000km in today’s Eritrea.
The Asmara – Massawa road through Fil-Fil Selemuna, Massawa – Assab, Massawa – Gilbub, Barentu – Tesseney, Afabet – Kubkub – Nakfa, Massawa – Erafaile, are some of the largest road construction witnessed over the years. However, over past few years, the circulation from and to Asmara has become quite critical and a challenge that it is of importance to tackle the obstacle at its early stage so as to avoid major road issues in the future.
Thus, with its long term mission, the Government of Eritrea is currently working in a new ring road project surrounding the city of Asmara. The idea is to ease the traffic burden coming into Asmara and especially of heavy vehicles damaging the asphalted roads.
In number, more than 30 trucks from the Bisha Mining Company are circulating each day back and forth between Bisha through Keren towards Massawa passing by Asmara. One can imagine the impediment to the current road while sharing it with commuters and public transport.
Accordingly, after completion of the feasibility studies, the construction of the ring road is under way as in three month ago. At present major parts of the project have been completed. For my development column, it was a must to witness the progress and the future impact it will leave on communities, the economy and the environment. Therefore, a few days ago, I embarked into a field trip to witness the project and also hear from those, whose lives will be impacted as well as those in charge of the project.
In the early morning hours, our guide, Lt. Col. Engineer Getachew, was awaiting at the door of the road by Bet Gergish area where bulldozers, loaders and workers were already actively working in enlarging the road and linking it to the path en-route to Durfo.
This newly built road starting from Bet Gergish takes commuters directly towards Adi Nifas and join the road directly towards Keren without crossing Asmara. A relieve for the capital city.
Thus, Eng. Getachew explained that heavy vehicles won’t pass by the capital any longer but instead join the other road through this ring road. He then showed me aerial view of the project and thanks to the aerial footage and updated data by the Office, the project was easily implemented while ensuring that communities in the surrounding won’t be affected negatively. The 12,5km long road is built at an embankment of 5m height to ensure that the road won’t be affected during the rainy seasons and its enlargement measures 20m. Already 9 converters have been installed within a period of one month. (… continue reading –>>)