The Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) gets a new boss from the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), ending a nearly seven month vacancy created by the removal of Zaid Woldegebriel as director general.
The new Director General, Areya Girmay, leaves his top job as deputy head of Sur Construction, one of the group of companies the Tigryan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has under the EFFORT, to take a public service position. His transition from a construction company that seeks contracts from the ERA, to head of the ERA, comes at the same time as the accusation by the Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), that the Authority’s contracting practices were vulnerable to corruption and suffered cost and time overruns. These overruns have led to extra payments of hundreds of millions Birr on some contracts, far exceeding original budgets.
Areya was one of eight shortlisted for the job, according to Workeneh Gebeyehu, minister of Transport. The letter from the Prime Minister’s Office approving the Ministry of Transport’s (MoTr) recommendation of Areya for the job was delivered to the Ministry on Friday, June 12, Worekeneh said. The Ministry made the request a week ago.
“It took a while since the evaluation process began,” Workeneh said, adding, “We recommended his appointment because he has better knowledge, and experience for job.”
Areya graduated in civil engineering from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) in 1995. He joined ERA one year later, serving the Authority for eight years as project manager and district manager.
After leaving ERA, he began to work with private contractors, finally moving to Sur Construction in 2006. Since then, he has been working as manager of different projects including the Zarima – Wolkait dam, until becoming second in command and construction department manager, a position he occupied for two years. Up until a year ago, Sur had 40 contracts with the ERA. The 40th contract, worth 2.1 billion Br, was awarded to the company on May 22, 2014, for the construction of a 53Km road. Sur had completed 37 of the 40 contracts by that time.
Sur was established in 1992 with a capital investment of 108 million Br. In 2012/13, the annual turnover of the company had reached 1.4 billion Br, according to its website.
The company has constructed roads, airports, universities and hydropower plants.
Areya’s predecessor, Zaid, had been on the job for 10 years until October 31, 2014, and had been in the transportation sector for the past 30 years, starting his career at the Federal Transport Authority (FTA). He was Planning Head at MoTr, before moving over to FTA in 1998, where he eventually replaced Tesfamicahel Nahusenay as director general. Zaid has a BA degree in Economics from AAU as well as a Master’s Degree in Transport Economics from Leeds University, United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister’s Office made the decision to remove Zaid from his post within three days of receiving a request from MoTr. It was on October 29, 2014 that the Ministry had written a letter to the office requesting approval of the removal of Zaid from his position stating that the whole Authority needed to be restructured.
“My main priority will be achieving targets in the coming road sector programme under the growth and transformation programme (GTP II),” said Areya. The authority has planned to construct 110,000Km of roads.
Modernisation of the Authority and making its operations more transparent will also be prioritised, added Areya.