NewsSocial Affairs

News: Zalambessa residents continue plea for infrastructure revival more than a year after Pretoria accord

Zalambessa, a town of situated in the Eastern Zone of the Tigray region remains without basic public services even after a year after the signing of Pretoria agreement (Photo: Goyteom Gebreegziabher)

Addis Abeba – The town of Zalambessa, situated in the Eastern Zone of the Tigray region, continues to lack basic public services, including electricity, water, health, and education services, more than a year after the signing of the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in November 2022.

Residents are urgently requesting for the rehabilitation of crucial infrastructure as the town endures neglect and a pronounced scarcity of fundamental amenities.

In an interview with Addis Standard, residents of Zalambessa expressed enduring significant societal challenges attributed to the lack of basic infrastructure and feeling marginalized by the broader community. They emphasize the imperative for the interim administration of Tigray and the federal government to address their immediate difficulties.

One resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, articulated the prevailing sentiment of neglect: “We are experiencing a profound sense of neglect as, since the implementation of the Pretoria deal, there has been a notable absence of progress in critical infrastructure development. The impact is acutely felt in our community, with children being deprived of educational opportunities, thereby compromising the well-being and prospects of an entire generation.”

The damage inflicted upon electric poles along a 12-kilometer stretch originating from the neighboring Fatsi town further exacerbates Zalambessa’s primary issue of electricity scarcity. Residents are compelled to travel to Fatsi town to access electricity, while some have initiated intermittent electricity service through the deployment of a generator.

Furthermore, the absence of telephone network service and banking facilities compounds the difficulties confronting the residents.

Girmay Gidey, head of public relations at Tigray Region Electricity Utility, confirmed to Addis Standard that electric service is currently unavailable in Zalambessa and several surrounding districts, including Duhan, the capital of Irob town, and other areas are still controlled by Eritrean forces.

In September last year, Addis Standard reported news of more than 28 youths who were abducted from Irob and surrounding areas. The Irob people, who speak their own language called Saho, share a border with Eritrea.

Girmay highlighted the significant challenges encountered by the damaged to electric infrastructure during the war, emphasizing the urgent necessity for extensive maintenance.

“Nearly all electric infrastructure endured significant damage during the war, necessitating thorough maintenance,” he remarked. “However, the execution of this maintenance relies on safety measures and suitable road infrastructure for transporting machinery. Regrettably, the absence of security has impeded our ability to carry out the required maintenance.”

Girmay further stressed the critical importance of establishing a secure environment for maintenance crews to conduct their tasks, highlighting the pivotal role of safety protocols and accessible roadways in the restoration and upkeep of electricity services in war-affected regions.

As per residents’ accounts, the governance of the town falls under the jurisdiction of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF). However, the entry and exit checkpoints regulating access to Zalambessa are under the occupation of Eritrean forces.

A recent visitor to the town engaged in humanitarian aid efforts provided additional insights into the prevailing circumstances in Zalambessa. Public transportation options connecting Adigrat city and Fasti town to Zalambessa, such as Bajaj and motorcycle services, are available. However, transportation services are limited beyond 6 p.m.

Eritrea’s invasion of Ethiopia’s Tigray regional state and its role in the war has been marked with reports of extreme atrocities, which both Ethiopia and Eritrea initially denied as “complete lie.“ However, in May 2021, Ethiopia admitted the involvement of Eritrean troops in atrocities against civilians, confirming several reports by media and human rights organizations, including the state backed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which said “grave human rights violations and an attack against civilians in Axum city, Tigray region.” AS

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button