With over 50 years of history, Atekilt Terra is the biggest vegetable open market in the city. However, in the coming years, it faces major changes as two vegetable companies vie for it.
Atekilt Terra, the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Addis Abeba, has two companies, Arada Vegetable Association and Bis Fruit & Vegetable Agro Industry SC, scrambling to be the first involved in its redevelopment.
A newly established company, Bis has been selling shares beginning in July 8, 2010, to construct a twin tower building on an 18,000sqm plot where Atekilt Terra is currently located, which they have yet to secure from the Addis Abeba City Administration. The request Bis made for the land to the city administration manager's office has been forwarded to the land administration department.
However, on April 17, a portion of the land, 2,000sqm, which Bis plans to construct its building on, was given to Arada Vegetable Association, established by vendors who currently work in Atekilt Terra on a lease from the Arada District. The vegetable association received the land on a 50-year lease at 3,327 Br per square metre for a total of around 6.7 million Br. So far, the association has paid 1.9 million Br, which is more than the 20pc that was due.
The latter has until December 2011 to start construction of a 13-storey building, at minimum, which must be completed by the year 2013, according to the lease agreement between the Arada District and Arada Vegetable Association.
"We want to start the construction within six months and will be floating a tender for the design and construction of the building within two weeks," Dirbo Mehammed, vice chair of the association, told Fortune. "We have already chosen the Building Design Enterprise to conduct a soil test."
So far 783 people have bought shares, each priced at 2,000 Br with a maximum of 200 allowed per shareholder, according to Wegderese Melese, general manager of Bis.
They have not formally approached shop owners at Atekilt Terra, Wegderese admits, but some have come forward to buy shares, he says.
"No one in the association is interested in joining them," Hailu Gebre, secretary of Arada Vegetable Association, which has 67 members, told Fortune.
Many of the shop owners in Atekilt Terra, who are involved in the sale of fruit, vegetables, spare parts, and glass, have no idea about the plans by Bis.
"I have not heard of Bis formally, before, just rumours," Behailu Tilahun, who has been selling vegetables in Atekilt Terra for six years in a rented store corridor told Fortune. "It is good to have something of your own, instead of paying rent every month."
The project by Bis is the most viable one as it employs thousands of businesspeople instead of a few dozen, according to Wegderese.
Bis unveiled on August 5, a three-dimensional (3D) image of the twin towers, 18 and 19 storeys high, that they plan to construct once they secure the area. Their plan includes a floor space for the fruit and vegetables shops, a basement for parking, a waste processing unit, and top floors for other shops and offices.