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20th of January 2018

Ethiopia



Companies Bid to Save Major Source of Nile

The bid was floated to procure four machines to destroy the water hyacinth weed, Emboch

The water hyacinth weed, locally known as Emboch, covers below 4,000ha of Lake Tana.

Eight companies have been shortlisted by the Amahara Regional State’s Administration to supply four machines for clearing the rapidly spreading water hyacinth weed, locally known as Emboch, around Lake Tana- a major source of the Nile River.

The companies have made it through the preliminary technical evaluation of the tender opened by the Amhara Regional State Procurement & Disposal Agency (ARPDA). The companies offered between three million Birr and 10 million Br for a single machine, according to sources. The cost of the procurement will be covered entirely by the Regional State’s Administration.

The Agency floated the tender on behalf of the Amhara Environment, Forest & Wildlife Protection Development Authority. And it has opened the financial evaluation, held three weeks ago, in the presence of representatives of the bidders and the committee formed by the Agency to oversee the process.

Amongst the bidders, three of the companies are based in China, whereas two in Sweden, a Japanese, Canadian and Ethiopian firms are also participating in the tender.

The companies’ financial capacity, as well as their machines, will be evaluated against specifications set by the Authority, according to Zelalem Liyew, acting head of the Procurement Agency.

The machines are expected to help the Regional State Administration to reduce the mushrooming weed around Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, 550Km from Addis Abeba.

Even though there were efforts to contain and reduce the effects of the water hyacinth weed around the river, it has, nonetheless, brought a fall in fish population, producing less than 1,000tns a year despite the potential of the river to provide 13 times higher than this amount.

Two months ago, a new proclamation, intended to form a new body to control the proliferation of Emboch around the lake, was approved by the Amahara Regional State cabinet members. The entity, which collected more than two million Birr, will also manage finances and funds implemented to reduce the coverage of the weed.

The institution is yet to assign its board of directors and board chairpersons, which will be selected amongst government officials, religious leaders, academicians and celebrities.

The idea of forming a separate body emerged as the coverage of water hyacinth weed reached 4,000ha. On its first appearance around the lake five years ago, it covered around 20ha, but it expanded to over 50,000ha in 2017.

Adding to the newly procured machines, Gonder University is overhauling its machines invented half a year ago to destroy the weed.

“We are working to boost the horsepower of the machines invented by the University,” said Mezgebu Dagnew, a director of community awareness & water hyacinth weed prevention at the Authority.

Additionally, the Authority has also inked a 19 million Br agreement with Bahir Dar University and Mulatu Industrial Engineering to manufacture these machines.

As of now, the weed is taking over other lakes in the country.

Two months ago, more than 800ha of Lake Koka were covered by the weed, as the reports of Oromia Environment, Forest & Climate Change Authority indicate.

Belayneh Ayele (PhD), the director of the Authority, in an interview with Fortune two months ago, said that it is difficult to clear the weed completely.

But, for an expert who is currently carrying out a study to use the weed as a source of biofuel energy, it is possible to clear it completely.

“Although I believe the short term solution is using machines and human resources to get rid of the weed, biological methods should also be employed alternatively to use it as a source of energy,” he said.

Studies indicate the weed first emerged in Ethiopia at Lake Koka.

The water hyacinth weed, locally known as Emboch, covers below 4,000ha of Lake Tana.

By SAMSON BERHANE FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Jan 11,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 924]

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