[VIDEO Full REPORT] ERITREA : New Year’s and Christmas Ceremony in Gahtelay

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A ceremony for the year 2020 and Christmas was held on the grounds of the Crop and Livestock Corporation at the thriving small town of Gahtelay on Saturday 4th January 2020.

Ceremonies at a national level have usually been held in major cities primarily for their convenience in providing essential amenities that can help in carrying-out such important ceremonies easily and smoothly.

The small town of Gahtelay was chosen for the first time to hold this year’s New Year and Christmas holidays. Preparation for the ceremony started in the early weeks of October 2019. The organisation and co-ordination for the event, which hosted more than 5, 000 invited guests and numerous members the defence forces, was overseen by the administrator of the Sub- Zone of Gindae, Ato Umer Yahya, and the administrator of Gahtelay and its environs, Ato Zereisenay Gayem.

The fast developing small town of Gahtelay was established in 1986 with at least 25 well planned restaurants, snack bars and shops. Initially, this town had started with six people, owning wooden shelter, snack bar and shops at the piece of land situated between the two bridges, near the grounds on which the present huge branch office of the Crop and Livestock Commission was built after Eritrea’s liberation.

Gahtelay, which is 42 km. away from Massawa, is situated on the sides of the road leading from Asmara to Massawa. The town also provides an additional strategic road, which leads to May Weuy, a place that provides hot bathes to several thousands of Eritreans and tourists, and She-ib.

Tigre, Saho and Tigrinya are the main languages used by the residents. An elementary and secondary school is available at Gahtelay. Tigre and English are used as languages of instruction at the schools. Tuesday is the market-day of the town.

As the countryside of this town is mainly used as farm-lands and animal farms, the dam is thought to help advance agricultural products immensely. The town of Gahtelay is found about 310 metres above the sea level and the climate is reasonably less hot than Massawa. It has about 3, 500 residents, 50% of whom live as farmers and herders. The main crops and other farm products are maize, sorghum, peanuts, watermelon and milk. The town supplies milk to the residents of Massawa.

A large dam is being constructed at the south-eastern side of Gahtelay. Nearly four kilometres away from this town, it is the 3rd largest dam in the country and is expected to hold 50 million metres cube of water. Engineer Teumay Berhane says: ‘Every time we construct a dam, we learn a great deal of advanced skills from our experience in building it. We keep on finding new ways on how to design much larger and better dams. So far, without a shadow of doubt, this dam, here at Gahtelay, will simply be our finest dam, specially when we consider the tremendous amount of man-power, cement and bars of metals used in constructing it.’ The dam is built on a foundation, which goes down as deep as 25 metres, with 1.5 km. in length and 42 metres in height.

When completed, the dam is expected to provide potable water not only to Gahtelay and its environs but also to places as far as Massawa. Moreover, a tremendous amount of water is going to be available for irrigation covering swathes of pieces of land, which is estimated to be 30, 000 hectares. This will be the finest opportunity to create an additional food-basket for Eritrea.

The ceremony was attended by Ato Woldenkiel Abreha, Minister of Local Government, Brig. General Tekle Lebsu, Governor of Northern Red Sea region, high-ranking government and PFDJ officials, defence forces and residents of Gahtelay and its environs.