The Imperial Ethiopian Government was convinced that a Road Agency solely responsible for rehabilitating/restoring and expanding the road network throughout the country had to be established. Accordingly, the Imperial Highway Authority (IHA) was established under proclamation No. 115/1951 as a semi-autonomous agency with specific duties to plan, design, construct, and maintain roads. Responsibilities for construction and maintenance of roads remained under a single autonomous authority (IHA) for 26 years (1951-1977). The Ministry of Transport and Communication turned out to be the supervising authority of ERA. The Ethiopian Roads Authority has been reestablished under proclamation 133/1978 incorporating, among others, the Rural Roads Department in addition to the Highway Department.
In 1980, the Military Government that took power in 1974 reformed the agency into the Ethiopian Transport Construction Authority (ETCA) by proclamation No. 189/1980 and became answerable to the newly formed Ministry of Construction. The proclamation enlarged responsibility of the Authority by expanding its task to incorporate the construction of Airports, Seaports, Railways, and Municipal Roads.
Following the shift from a command-based economy to a market oriented one in 1991, ERA was reestablished by proclamation No.63/1993 with a view to providing a strong administration under the leadership of a Board. As part of its reform, the government assigned administration of rural roads to the regional self-governments and main roads to ERA as part of the Federal Government's responsibility. ERA's role regarding rural roads was then limited to rendering support such as overall network planning, training and technical assistance as required by Regional Governments.
To cope up with existing situations, ERA was again re-established by proclamation No. 80/1997 with the objective to develop and administer highways, and to ensure the standard of road construction. With the establishment of the new cabinet of Ministers in October 2001, a Ministry of Infrastructure and later on Ministry of Works and Urban Development has been formed with the responsibility of developing the infrastructure of the nation. ERA, which is one of the organizations under the Ministry of Works and Urban Development and accountable to the Board, is responsible for planning and formulating long and short term plans and programs for road construction, design, maintenance of trunk and major link roads, as well as for administration of contracts.
Currently, the main responsibilities of ERA are network planning; management of contract projects and force account operations. The long-term objective is to focus on policy, planning and contract administration and to pull out gradually from direct operational works