Dejen Gezu, a new graduate driver of the 752.7-km Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is excited as he prepares to embark on his new career.
Gezu was one of the top three graduates of a recent Chinese government sponsored two and a half years rail technology training program, which aims to create a capable and skilled local manpower.
“From the time of my childhood, I wanted to work such kind of jobs, it is my ambition,” Gezu told Xinhua.
“34 of us studied for around two and half years and our training was classified into two parts. One part in our country and the other one in China. We stayed for around eight months (in China), it was a really impressive time and it was really good training time. That was very important for us, because we grasped a lot of knowledge, skills and experiences to do our job perfectly,” he further said.
The Ethiopian government has taken a keen interest in building a competent, skilled pool of technocrats, with Tuesday’s inauguration of 34 train drivers being one such example.
Gezu and other 33 new graduates were given various types of educational courses including theoretical training, practical training, physical training, simulated cab training and professional skills competition.
The 34 graduates, who were originally selected from a pool of 6,000 prospective candidates, have been issued with a yearly train driving competency certificate, renewable every year.
Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia Minister of Transport, called on the new train drivers to generously serve Ethiopia with all the skills they garnered from the two and a half years long training program.
“I say again congratulations for successfully finishing the training and for joining the job market. I call upon you to selflessly serve your country through the knowledge and skills you garnered in the training and to effect multifaceted tangible changes in the sector,” the Ethiopia Minister of Transport said.
Moges said the training of locals in various professions in the railway sector is part of Ethiopian government’s plan to eventually have locals fully manage and operate the country’s railway system.
Liu Yu, Minister-Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs of China to Ethiopia, said China is committed to helping Ethiopia cultivate a skilled manpower to help the east African country achieve economic prosperity.
“Several rounds of training programs for operating and managing this railway have been organized for Ethiopian staff. Knowledge transfer and capacity building is critical. For this reason Chinese government keeps requesting Chinese contractors to pay high attention to technology transfer and local staff training,” Liu said.
Liu said the training of local staff for the Chinese built Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line will indirectly boost landlocked Ethiopia’s economic prospects.
“Ethiopia is a landlocked country, which is a major bottleneck for its development. But, with this railway Ethiopia turns to be land linked,” Liu said, adding that the railway is not only a flagship cooperation project between China and Ethiopia, but also the road to prosperity for Ethiopia.