In Ethiopia, work is now under way to repair damage caused during the war with Somali forces in the Ogaden region.
In Ethiopia, work is now under way to repair damage caused during the war with Somali forces in the Ogaden region. One of the most urgent tasks of the Ethiopian government is the rebuilding of bridges damaged or destroyed on the economically important railway line which runs from Addis Ababa to the coastal town of Djibouti.
SYNOPSIS: The Ethiopians say 21 bridges along the railway were blown up during the eight months of fighting. The line, one of Ethiopia's two narrow railways, runs for 880 kilometres (550 miles) to the Red Sea port of Djibouti. Before the war more than 60 per cent of the country's exports moved along it .... and even during their counter-offensive the Ethiopians say they were reconstructing bridges and repairing tracks -- an indication of how much importance they attach to getting it re-opened.
These men are working on one of the sections worst damaged, around the town of Dire Dawa. The Ethiopians say repairs are carried out from dawn to dusk, and sometimes even under moonlight, by workers supervised by volunteer civil engineers.
Along this section, say the Ethiopians, repair work is being carried out by workers and people's militia members who have been specially mobilised for the task, following their part in the fighting. They say experience and training in the militia has given the workers the physical fitness they need to do the work, and that it is being carried out with what they call revolutionary enthusiasm. According to the Chief Administrator of the region, the bridges could be open to traffic again in one month's time, though it is not known how long it will be before the entire railway re-opens.
Throughout the region other reconstruction work is being carried out. Last month the Ethiopian Ambassador to China, Mr Fantaye Biftu, said his country was seeking international aid for this purpose. Any assistance from friendly countries and international organisations was welcome, he said.