Ethiopia: Problems With Addis Ababa Taxis

October 11, 2012 (All Africa) — It is critical and undoubtedly essential that various forms of public transportation services to be adequately available in cities and urban areas that help people to move from one place to another for various purposes. The fact that people move to cities in search of better life remains a day to day phenomena. As a result, the demand for transportation services in the cities such as Addis Ababa increases week-in-week-out while the supply is in short to meet the demand.

Today, the problem of transportation services is evident in Addis Ababa. It is common to see people unusually lining up in long queue for taxi or minibuses. It is usually known that lining up for city bus whose route and schedule are fixed to some degree. But it is not clear the secret behind the strange queue for taxi in Addis Ababa.

Zenebech Atlaw,47, was one of the people in a queue waiting for their turn to get the Saris to Kera taxi which appears in five or six minutes gap. She waited for long and late for office. “I prefer taxis because they are more comfortable than other means of transportation and for short travel you pay small fee for taxis but you pay almost fixed price for buses whether long or short,” she said.

Bereket Shibeshi said that in case of the shortage, government and concerned stakeholders need to take some solution. But lining up is safer than people ruthlessly fight one another to get on board. “There are children, old and physical disabled individuals who use taxis to travel. When scarce happens what will be the fate of these people? In my opinion, the queue should be continued to consistently help such segment of the community,” Bereket said.

Tolla Dechasa, a taxi conductors said that the queue is helpful to passengers as it avoids a wrestling to get into the taxi. It is quite important for the safety of people.

Ababaw Kassa, a head of Tsehay Taxi Association said that the current transportation problem is caused by various factors. There are shortages of taxis and other public transportation in the city. “As schools opened, many taxis give service for students on contract basis. Such services are supported as children could not catch taxis in such chaotic circumstances. Taxi owners are not imposed by anyone to give such services, it is their right. On the other hand, genuine spare parts become expensive and the sub standard ones do not serve long. So, lots of taxis are out of service as a result of the recurrent breaking difficulties they encounter,” said Ababaw.

He further indicated that it is becoming a head ache to keep the taxi owners in the business as many of them want to stop it complaining they are not profiting. The tariff does not match the cost they pay for maintenance and related tasks. With regard to tariff, government sets it based on only oil price. Tyre and other spare parts were never considered but their price is double when compared to the petroleum. “Anbessa buses are subsidized by the government, thus they overcome the problem. But taxis do not get such service. Taxi associations tried to distribute tyres to members on long term loan; however, the soaring price prevents the association to continue,” he said.

The number of mid buses(Higer) buses is also decreasing from time to time for several reasons. For one thing, their spare parts are not available in the local market. The other reason, the bank confiscated them as owners fail to pay the loan back. However, the number public transport users in the city always grows. Whereas, the falling number of public transportation poses a sever problem in Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa Road and Transport Bureau says activities are underway to solve public transportation problems in the city. Bureau Transport Operation Head Wogayehu Assefa said there are several big events in September including public holidays and school openings that altogether rises the transportation demand. “The demand and supply of transportation services in the city is imbalance. New taxis are not coming into this service while the old ones are out of work for various reasons. Some Anbessa buses and midi buses have also stopped due to technical problem,” he said.

“To give possible solution for the problem, bureau is exerting its maximum effort in collaboration with stakeholders to maintain broken vehicles as much as possible. It has also permitted vehicles with Oromia and SNNP plates to provide taxi services. In addition, awareness raising programmes will be conducted soon for taxi drivers who mostly disobey the zoning task,” Wogayehu added.

All Africa