Today's guest is Dr.-Ing Atru Agez. He is a civil engineer by profession. He had gone to school at the University of Rome, the University of Genoa, the engineering college, Addis Ababa, the secondary school Medhane Alem in Harar, and what did you do? He had given several courses in the Department of Building Technology (S.C), Faculty of Technology, Addis Ababa University.
Through the historic route of northern Ethiopia he had made the roof of the church of Axum Tsion watertight, designed and built in locally available materials, cheap housing units for the hermits and other small buildings associated with the traditional Ethiopian-Orthodox religious life. In fact, he served as a deputy resident at the joint venture of De Leuw Cather International (DCI) Inc. / Tippets, Abbet-Mc Carthy-Stratton (Chicago, USA) on the fifth Feeder Road project in East Ethiopia.
For the same reason, he also served as a liaison officer and coordinator of low-cost housing that was partly to be financed by USAID in Addis Ababa.
He had guided almost all engineers who made it to the top in the construction industry and devoted the majority of his life to this life course.
The Ethiopian Herald had a short stay with Dr.-Ing Atru Agez with a view to familiarizing his personal and professional life with our readers. He has dealt with a number of issues that revolve around the nuts and bolts of the Ethiopian construction industry. fragments:
Let's start by introducing yourself to our readers.
My name is Dr.-Ing Atru Agez. I was born in East Ethiopia in the village of Debele in the Gursoum district in 1936. It is part of the then Hararge Teglay Gizat. The village in which I was born is located exactly at the common border between the Ethiopian Somali and Oromic states. I am a descendant of the third generation of Christian settlers originally from Northern Shewa. My great-grandfathers and uncles were loyal servants of Emperor Menelik, the founder of modern Ethiopia.
I am from farmer extraction. As we say in Ethiopia, my umbilical cord was buried in Hararge Region. As a result, I feel more Haragherian than Shewan. Keizer Menelik established my ancestors in the Gursoum district with the specific aim of keeping the peace.
After three inter-ethnic group wars, my family was internally displaced and eventually ended up in the city of Harar – affectionately called the "Jogol" in GC 1941, where I could attend primary and secondary education. In 1957 I went to the engineering college, which was then in the buildings of the technical school of Addis Ababa. I attended a two-year diploma course and I received a scholarship from the Italian government. In September 1960 I was in the construction department of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Rome. In June 1968 I received a Doctor of Civil Engineering subsection Building Technology.
Where did you start working quickly after graduation?
Well, shortly after graduating from the University of Rome, I joined SAUTI, a consultancy firm based in Rome. I worked there for about three years as a structural engineer. The Gimbi-Gambela Road was designed by SAUTI and approved by the Ethiopian Road Authority. About three years before the outbreak of the Ethiopian revolution in GC 1974, I returned to Ethiopia and started working in the Planning Department of Addis Ababa.
Tell us about the most important project that you had in mind during your stay in the municipality?
During my three-year stay in the municipality, the most important project proposal from the mayor, Dr. Haile Giorgis Workneh the construction of cheap houses in Addis Ababa. The cheap housing project in Addis Ababa had to be a prototype of cheap housing that had to be replicated throughout Ethiopia. The project is expected to be partially financed by USAID. The report submitted to the mayor of Addis Abeba by a US housing advisory firm estimated that one hundred thousand or three hundred residential units would have to be built for a year or a day, because Addis Ababa mainly consisted of dilapidated slums. This was a polite way of telling the mayor of Addis Ababa that much had to be done to alleviate the housing shortage of the inhabitants of Addis Ababa. However, this project was never realized because of the lack of funding from the municipality of Addis Ababa.
I am, however, very pleased that what Haile Geirogis Werqenehi was looking for at the time was realized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. During this time the ministry has begun the noble project of building what we mistakenly call "Condominium Houses" throughout Ethiopia. I hope that this endeavor will continue until Addis Ababa and the rest of the Ethiopian cities get the picture of modern cities in the civilized world.
What was the next step?
As time passed, the Ethiopian revolution began to win and created a lot of euphoria among the youth. Personally, I was not attracted to a political party because of its primary purpose that it would detract from my professional endeavor to which I had dedicated my life during my school years. In November 1974 I started working at De Leuw Cather International (DCI) Inc. / TIPPETS, Abbet-Mc Carthy-Stratton (Chicago, USA) at the fifth Feeder Road project in East Ethiopia as deputy resident engineer at the fifth feeder road project, in the Habrow region of Western Ethiopia.
The 40 km long Gelemso-Mechara Feeder Road that was built here during my stay, connects the agricultural rich area of Habrow with the equally rich Aris area. The experience I gained with the project helped me amply in teaching road construction in the Building department of the Faculty of Technology at AAU. After the completion of the project that lasted two years, the then Ministry of Culture and Sport hired my services as an architectural engineer for the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage on the historic route of Northern Ethiopia. This project was partly funded by UNESCO and they had to send a restaurateur with whom I was supposed to work.
The most striking aspect of my activity was the waterproofing of the church Axum Tsion to save the sacred icons and the tabots of the destruction by water that leaked through the roof.
What is the water tightness material?
The waterproofing material consists of mar glass and asphalt. Mar glass consists of ground glass soaked in asphalt and then made in the form of rolled material. The material I used at that time began to burst through the intense heat of the sun. It could not bear the heat at all. I was told by an engineer who was a student of mine who, in cooperation with the German GTZ engineers for technical assistance, completely repaired the water test with modern proofing materials. In addition, I designed and constructed from the locally available materials a cheap housing unit for the hermits, Mirfak (a room that serves the priests and deacons as a dining room of food brought to church by believers) and other small building products associated with the traditional religious life of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. During my two years in Axum, the maintenance and renovation of the holy church life for the Axumiates was not easy.
What was the maintenance and renovation of the Holy Church of Axum as at that time?
Axum was then besieged by guerrilla fighters in a radius of 5 KM. The farmers were forced not to offer their agricultural products and firewood for sale, so that they would earn money to buy basic supplies for their livelihood. At that time, life was extremely difficult for the Aksumite to get enlightenment. The auxiliary vehicles that traveled in convoy to reach Axum from Gondar and the besieged Aksumites were very grateful to the Ethiopian army.
I was also interested in the maintenance and restoration of Fassil Gibe, which consists of a group of palaces protected by a wall around it. These palaces were built by different Gondor, male and female rulers. Unfortunately, match-work could not be done there because UNESCO could not send a restaurateur. In Fasil Gibe, only small works for cleaning and cleaning up the compound were carried out so that it would be suitable for tourist attractions.
What was the last part of your activity?
My last activity on the historic route of Northern Ethiopia was the maintenance and restoration of the palace of Emperor Yohannes IV. This potential work could not come to fruition after the intensification of the civil war that then raged in Northern Ethiopia. Finally, I resigned from the Ministry of Culture and Sport in 1979 and I joined the Addis Ababa University as a teacher.
I started teaching in the Building Technology department in January 1979 and after 20 years of intensive academic activity I retired on 5 September 1999. In the university I have learned more than I have taught my students. I have produced many engineers and I am very happy to have met my ex-students as contractors, municipal chief engineers and project managers. The only infrastructure that underlies all infrastructures is education and training. This makes me extremely proud to have been an active participant in this endeavor.
Needless to say that my professional activity as a construction engineer would not have been complete without building buildings. In this respect, after my retirement at the university, I became a small contractor in early August 2008. I built 5 cheap G + 2 buildings in the city of Yirgalem in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples & Regional State. In August 2011 I finally decided to retire in the construction sector. I still feel mentally and physically strong and able to perform many tasks that may come my way.
What do you think of the Ethiopian construction industry?
I am delighted that the Ethiopian cities and cities are sprouting explosively. I often get lost when I walk through the living quarters of Addis Ababa after the immense transformation that the construction has brought about. Unfortunately, today it has become quite common to notice walls of buildings bursting shortly after their completion. Obviously, the construction industry has grown into a neck-and-neck throat-cut competition to make money instead of focusing on a solid professional ethics that is required of them. Due to the administrative burden, it has become extremely difficult to follow good professional ethics to build solid buildings. It has also become extremely difficult to make a way through the bureaucratic labyrinth without a money-changing hand. It has also become a culture to make money at any cost to keep the head above water in the construction sector.
How can the problem be examined?
Much has been said to remedy the social evils that plague our structure of social life. The building industry could only revive and regain its glory if and only if the owners of the buildings to be built, the bureaucracy and the contractors fully agree to put an end to corruption practically our social life on our knees. brings.
What is your refection on the current number of graduates of civil engineers across the country from different universities?
Today, our universities are challenging architects and engineers, rather encouraging. However, it is often said that the professional preparation of the graduates leaves much to be desired. The university can not teach everything that is necessary to make a graduate professional. The teaching staff must first and foremost be well grounded in what they learn and have a fully developed love for their profession. Their hearts must remain in their abilities instead of in places where extra income has to be made.
The Ethiopian school system is often said by teaching experts that it does not meet the required academic standard. It is recommended to remedy this unfortunate situation time after time and until now there has been no tangible outcome. Primary and secondary education is the most important pillar for sound vocational training at universities. A recent survey conducted by Durham University of Great Britain, teachers of the faculty of Arat kilo science and Kotebe Teachers College has revealed that our primary school students lag far behind those of the US and Singapore in terms of awareness, thinking and general knowledge.
In short, students from the elementary level to university level have to read a lot, on top of what they learn in the classroom. Real education comes mainly from the effort of the students themselves instead of what is taught in the classroom.
What needs to be done to solve the housing crisis across the country?
The construction sector is an industry that includes the architect, engineers and contractors on the one hand and the suppliers of building materials and the general public on the other. It is an industry that is able to move money and generate many crucial jobs. The construction industry depends on the dynamic and thriving economy, so that people can save money to build their housing units independently or to build mortgages.
So we come to the inevitable conclusion that not many people can afford money to build decent housing. The Ethiopian government spends a lot of money on the construction of infrastructure. Thus, the government can not subsidize housing construction in particular. What should we say then to free us from the housing crisis?
In my opinion, the answer is fairly simple and clear. It is mainly for the general public to find out what it must do to solve the housing crisis.