Chinese train driver Liu Ji (R) and his Ethiopian colleague Geto wave hands before the start of the first passenger train of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Oct. 5, 2016.(Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
ADDIS ABABA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- About 50 Ethiopian and Djiboutian prospective train drivers have started attending a China-sponsored training program here.
The training, expected to last until August 7, aims to create a competent and skilled labor force to operate the Chinese-built and financed 756 km Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line.
Speaking at the opening of the training seminar on Monday, He Ding, Vice President of Academy for International Business Officials (AIBO) of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said the participants will receive training on the management of rail operations.
"Fifty participants from Djibouti and Ethiopia will learn and exchange ideas on topics related to railway operations technologies and railway management," she said.
The railway training program isn't an isolated project, but part of a larger and expanding ties particularly between China and Ethiopia, she said.
Liu Yu, Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Embassy of PRC, said the training program will continue in a much more organized form through a planned railway academy.
"This railway academy will help Ethiopia and Djibouti to cultivate own talents and realize self-operation at early stage. This railway belongs to Ethiopian and Djibouti people and one day you will operate the railway completely," said Liu.
Drivers Liu Ji (L) and Zhang Shuqiang drive a test train on the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway during an operational test near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Oct. 3, 2016. (Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)
Tilahun Sarka, Director General of Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDRSC), said Ethiopia chose China as its main partner in railway sector because of the country's advanced railway systems.
"The good thing about Chinese instructors and lecturers, as long as you keep on asking questions you will get what you need, so be confident, don't be afraid, don't be shy, ask questions," he said.
The training of Djiboutian and Ethiopian train drivers is part of an organized China-Aid framework which has seen over 5,500 Ethiopians participate in various training programs over the last several years.