Ethiopia and Sudan Work to Increase Trade

The Ethio-Sudanese Passenger Transport Service Coordinating Committee is to announce the commencement of the Passenger Transport Service between the two countries, on February 26, 2015.

A Sudanese delegation, led by Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed (Eng),undersecretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Transport, Road and Bridge and his Ethiopian counterpart,  led by Kassahun Hailemariam, director general of the Federal Transport Authority  (FTA) have started discussing the details of the operation on February 25, 2015, at Ghion Hotel.

The General Managers of Ethiopia-based Sky Bus and Selam Bus and head of transport companies from Sudan are also participatingin the meeting, which will end tomorrow.

The point of discussion includes fixing the tariff rates, deciding customs and ticketing issuance stations, and figuring out when to start the operation of the Serviceas well as who will regulate the cross border transportation services between the two countries.

Private transport companies from both countries thatmeet the criteria will be deployed on the Addis Ababa- Khartoum route, according to Kassahun. Four main stations are already chosen on the Ethiopian boundary, which starts from Addis Ababa and passes through Bahir Dar, Gondar and Metema, and two in Sudanese border, Gedarif and Khartoum. Buses from both directions will spend a night at Gondar City, since the route stretches over 1,800km and takes two days to arrive at its final destination.

‘‘Sky and Selam buses are the only transport companies that fulfill the criteria on Ethiopian side so far,’’ said Kassahun.“Other companies will join the two if they fulfil the standards in the future.’’

The cross border transport service that will be launched by the two countries is a part of an agreement reached back in December 2013, to boost trade relations between Ethiopia and Sudan by openingrail and road transport facilities as well as harmonising customs operations.

A delegation led by Sudanese officials and business persons has also reached an agreement to establish a free zone trade area near the border, after discussing with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Fitsum Arega, director general of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), in January 2015. The free zone will help encourage trade, enhancing the flow of productions, especially agricultural, from both countries, Fitsum said during the discussion in January.

“At least there will be two buses on the route daily,” Kassahun added.“In addition to legalising the flow of people from Ethiopia to Sudan,and vice versa,through the border, the passenger transport service will help Sudanese tourists by offering cheaper transport cost.’’

‘‘We are ready to start the passenger transport operation in the current fiscal year,” Kassahunsaid. While cross bordering passenger transport service with Djibouti and Kenya is also in the pipeline, Kassahun said the one with Sudan will be the first for Ethiopia, when it commences.

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