The Addis Abeba City Administration Transport Authority has officially announced that the meter taxis in the country will be fully operational with a set tariff. The announcement comes after months of speculation and controversy between taxi associations and the government surrounding the meter taxi tariffs.
Customarily in Addis, prices for fares were set through negotiations between the client and the taxi driver. Under the new proposed system, this kind of system would be disallowed, and drivers and passengers will need to adhere to the new regulations. Taxi operators can only charge the price set by the transport authority. If there are any violations by the drivers of the set fares or they are unwilling to adhere to the rules, they will be penalized through fines, and may have their driving licenses revoked.
The payment system will give information on the distance traveled, the price to be charged and the time taken to cover the distance. At the end of the trip the clients will be given a receipt with details of fares and the distance traveled.
“The fare was set by the ministry after conducting a deep study and analysis of the cost taxi owners incur,” said Mitiku Asmare, deputy manager of the Addis Abeba City Administration Transport Authority.
“Meter taxis will help build up the country’s image starting from the airport,’’ he added.
Taxi operators have some reservations with the authority’s decision to introduce the new system.
“The city roads are crowded and take high fuel consumption. The prices don’t take into account our livelihoods and families,” says Yohannes Birhanu, a member of the Edget Taxi Association. “There are middle players who are causing conlifct with the government.”
The different meter taxi models will have different prices. Lifan taxis have had their prices set at 10 Br per kilometer. For Avanza meter taxis, which can carry up to seven passengers, the fare is 13 Br per kilometer. Lifan will also provide the payment software for the taxis.
The tariffs will also differ depending on the time of day. From 6am to 10pm, the fares are charged as already set prices. The fares will then rise by 150pc between 10pm and 6am.
In the city, 710 meter taxis in total have been equipped with the necessary software and are ready to give service. Other taxis that have not fulfilled criteria such as inspection stickers, third party insurance, and maintenance are still waiting for software installation. The software of the payment system will be controlled and monitored by the Transport Authority.
It has been a while since the transport system has been hit with rules and regulations. Almost four years ago, owners and drivers of blue and white minibuses (code 1 taxis) were assigned routes, and directed to affix plates onto the top of the minibuses indicating the areas where they were assigned to drive. However, this caused some issues for drivers and owners. And as a result, the number of blue and white, Addis Abeba registered minibus taxis is decreasing.
The white minibuses, with Oromia Regional State registration proved to be stiff competition in the streets. These minibuses, unlike the blue and white ones, do not have to operate on a set route and can pick up passengers wherever they are.
“Taxi owners did not want to limit their income serving specific areas, so they changed from code 1 Addis Abeba taxis to code 3 Oromia taxis, said Yidnek Girma and Asheber Geber, taxi supervisors in the Torhailoch area.
The blue white taxis are now also becoming extinct due to them wearing out and needing maintenance on a regular basis.
During the 2015/16 fiscal year, there were 4,034 Code 1 and 4,488 code 3 taxis serving the population of Addis Abeba on a daily basis. Compared to the preceding year the number of code 1 taxis has decreased by 37pc while Code 3 taxis increased by six percent.
“On average five white and blue minibus taxis a week come to our shop for motor and engine malfunctions, as well as part breakages,” said Amdegiorgis Moges, manager of Yared Engineering Plc, a garage.
Almost a quarter of the blue and white taxis offer transport services for students starting from 3:00pm. About another quarter are estimated to be in garages for maintenance or repair.
“Most of the older models, which are mostly blue and white, were bought used by people who couldn’t afford something better,” says Efrem Admasu, a taxi driver in the Jemo area. “Now because of the restrictions, people are moving towards the white taxis.”
“Blue and white minibuses usually make around 250 Br a day, while white ones make around 400 Br,” he added.
Customers in the city are not too concerned about the changes.
“I usually use any taxi, color does not matter to me as long as it takes me where I want,” said Kedist Mengesha, a taxi user.
Anbessa city bus service pioneered public transport service in Addis Ababa in 1943 under the then Ministry of Work and Communication. Around 40 pc of the population in the city use, motorized modes of transportation, comprises railways, minibus, taxi, private vehicles and motor cycles. While the majority of the population, around 60 pc, use non-motorized mode of transportation, which include walking, bicycle.
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