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Ethiopia, Djibouti railway link restored after protests

Wednesday August 4, 2021

A crucial trade route which links landlocked Ethiopia to the sea port of Djibouti has resumed operations after days of a blockade by protesters from the Somali region.

The railway was closed came after a large number of Afar regional militia crossed borders to Somali and carried out deadly attacks.

Somali youths retaliated by blocking the Ethio-Djibouti railway which passes through the Afar region.

A government source on Tuesday told Nation.Africa that operations resumed after federal and regional officials held discussions with communities in Somali and Afar.

According to the source, both passenger and freight transport services have been restored.

It's not yet clear why the Afar militia carried out the latest attacks but the two regions have a long-standing territorial dispute.
Somali regional government spokesperson Ali Bedel said the attacks have been carried out in Somali's Sitti zone of Gedamaytu and Gabraiisa areas.

Last week, Somali authorities confirmed that at least 300 people, most of them locals, died in the violence, which began on July 24.

With a population of over 115 million people, landlocked Ethiopia relies on Djibouti for roughly 95 percent of its import and export trade.

The 752-kilometer Ethio-Djibouti railway line, built at a cost $3.4 billion, has been providing passenger and freight transport since January 2018.

Seventy percent of the railway line’s total cost was financed by loans from the Chinese government with the Ethiopian government catering for the remaining 30 percent.


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