New Bus Sheds Proliferate Addis

Public transportation is oft criticised by many residents in the capital. The shortage is one pain, but lack of facilities such as bus shelters has also caused a nuisance for many who queue up under the harsh sun waiting to catch a taxi. The latter will not be a problem anymore as the Transportation Authority is now building bus sheds all over Addis Abeba to provide comfortable waiting spaces for its residents, report YIBELTAL GEBREGZIABHER and BINIAM TESFAYE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITERS.

Commuters such as Sileshi Arega, 47, are often concerned about protecting themselves from sun or rain while waiting for buses or taxis across Addis Abeba.

Such topics have always been a talking point amongst commuters whenever the humidity in the city fluctuates.

To make things worse, it has been long since most of the available bus shelters, not built with due consideration for passengers, became home to street vendors and the homeless.

But, the recent sight of these shelters being constructed all over the capital brings a glimmer of hope.

“Unlike the old and rusted bus shelters found in some parts of the capital, the new ones look very attractive and are eye-catching,” said Sileshi, who was waiting for a taxi in a newly constructed shelter near Yidnekachew Tessema National Stadium, along Ras Mekonnen Street. “I had never seen the city’s Administration paying attention to the construction of such facilities.”

Sileshi, one of the 3.3 million residents in the capital city, waits for more than half an hour to get a taxi or a bus.

Not only for Sileshi but pensioners and low-income earners such as Amare Lome, 71,  find the sheds essential for they tend to use buses more than other means of transport. Amare painfully waits for extended periods, sometimes 30 minutes, without any shelter just to get into a bus.

For the commuters who are facing transport shortage daily, the introduction of the new shelters seems to be, at least, a temporary solution to comfortably wait for taxis or buses in the capital- whose mode of transportation is dominated by motorised facilities such as a bus, minibus and taxis.

The city’s overall transportation system is characterised by a shortage during peak hours, lack of adequate facilities, high traffic congestion and inadequate urban road infrastructure.

Being one of the ten largest cities in sub-Saharan Africa, the population of Addis is growing by 2.5pc annually.

Not only the increase in population but also a bulge in rural migration, has caused the travel demand of Addis Abeba to double over the past three decades.

Hence, it has never been easy for people to access places, undertake activities and get service due to the unpredictability of the transportation system in the capital. It has become knotty for the residents to move around the city, with regards to convenience, cost and time.

In short, the city’s overall transportation system is characterised by a shortage during peak hours, lack of adequate facilities, high traffic congestion and inadequate urban road infrastructure.

About 12,000 taxis, along with over 700 regular and 50 double-decker Anbessa City buses, serve the city residents on a daily basis. Additionally, 200 Alliance buses, 1,000-metre taxis and 50 Sheger buses as well as a similar number of double-decker buses, were introduced in the just ended year. This has contributed to the growth in vehicles, surpassing half a million in the past fiscal year.

Yet, the problem is far from over.

The city’s administration allocates more than five billion Birr annually to carry out transport infrastructure development projects such as the construction of bus sheds in the city.

Witnessing the growth in such facilities, the City Administration has been constructing these sheds for a year across the city’s main routes to be a temporary shelter for residents waiting to catch a taxi or a bus.

Additional bus sheds are planned to be constructed with more public transport vehicles joining the facilities in the coming year including those by the Anbessa Bus Service Enterprise.

The City Transport Authority has erected 500 bus sheds with 97.1 million Br. Jiangxi Water & Hydropower International Co. Ltd was contracted to undertake the construction of the shelters for about four months until November 2017.

The new terminals have different features compared to the existing sheds.

“They are more secure at any time of the day as they are located within a view of police officers or security guards,” according to an official working at the Authority.

Additionally, maps will be attached to every shed to illustrate the routes and stations within the city’s transportation system.

“Anyone can get information about where the buses stop and their destinations,” Mitiku Asmare, deputy manager of Addis Abeba Transport Authority, explained.

Although the construction, financed by the government, should have been fully completed in the past month, it was delayed due to conflict over land.

“While constructing the terminals, we had difficulty with some people who refused to be relocated,” said the official.

Additionally, WT&T Construction Company has also built 50 bus shelters in the city after being awarded by the Transport Program Management Office to undertake the construction with a cost of five million Birr.

Established in 2009, WT&T Construction has previously constructed buildings for the Pharmaceuticals Fund & Supply Agency (PFSA) and a hospital in Guder, Oromia regional state.

Ethiopian Institute of Architectural Building Construction (EiABC), under auspices of the Addis Abeba University (AAU), designed the shelters, resting on 7.5sqm of land each. The sheds have seats made of woods and light advertising boxes.

Additional bus sheds are planned to be constructed with more public transport vehicles joining the facilities in the coming year including those by the Anbessa Bus Service Enterprise.

Almost two months ago, Anbessa, which serves 470,000 commuters, signed a contract with the Metal & Engineering Corporation (MetEC) for the supply of 750 buses with a cost of 3.4 billion Br.

Not only that, but the Corporation will also assemble an additional hundred buses based on order of the recently established Sheger Mass Transportation Service Enterprise.

Taking the upcoming expansion in transport facilities into accounts, the city’s Administration plans to construct 500 terminals every year for the next seven years.

“The construction will never stop. It will continue with the continuous urbanisation of the capital,” said Mitiku.

But, for Yiluhal Tiruneh, who has been using one of the sheds located around Stadium, the expansions should be prioritised.

“It should be regulated and supervised consistently, instead of being used as a political tool,” he said.

While Fasil G. Giorgis, an urban planner with three decades of experience, lauded the move of the city’s transport authority with reservation.

“Instead of using mirrors on the sheds, the contractor should have used unique materials which display the culture of the country,” he said. “Furthermore, the sheds should have included small retail outlets such as ice cream shops to make them more attractive.”




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