By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday blamed a military-based local contractor for the delay in construction of a multi-billion dollar dam project on the Nile.
“We have not even been able to install two turbines so far let alone complete according to timetable,” Ahmed said, in his first news conference after taking office this April.
He added that the Metal and Engineering Corporation was causing unnecessary delays in construction of the $5 billion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.
Ethiopia launched the 6,000 MW project in 2011. It was scheduled to be completed within five years, but more than seven years down the line it is nowhere near complete.
He suggested that the contract could be transferred to another contractor in order to reinvigorate the project — whose general manager Engineer Simegnew Bekele was found dead on a busy street in the capital Addis Ababa a month ago.
The prime minister’s remarks dispels doubts about the future of the dam project, which Egypt fears would reduce its “traditional share” of the Nile waters. Ethiopia maintains it needs electricity for national development.
He spoke on other pressing issues including the violence and large-scale displacement of people from Ethiopia's Somali region.
Asked about the fate of the regional state president Abdi Illey, who has been incriminated for triggering the violence, the prime minister said: “He will be brought to justice.”