The current price adjustment made by the Oromia Transport Authority raises the transportation cost up by to 20pc for passengers. This adjustment is not replicated by that of the authorities of other regions. While travellers are complaining, providers of transportation services are satisfied, reports HAIMANOT ASHENAFI, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.
For a father of one, Desta Mandefro, a monthly salary of 3,000 Br, sometimes higher, is not enough. He may bag 62 Br from every person in his 14-seat Toyota for a trip to Addis Abeba from Zeway, or vice-versa.
But after giving his employer – the owner of the car – 350 Br a day and fuel costs, he will be lucky to make over 200 Br.
“And then there is house rent, which is 1,000 Br, and school fee for my child, which is 200 Br,” Desta laments.
A new tariff adjustment though has meant that he can collect 74 Br from every passenger, growing his income. Drivers of cars that carry 16 passengers have been even luckier, bringing gross monthly incomes close to 65,000 Br.
It is a different story for passengers though.
“My office is still reimbursing me by the old tariff,” Hunde Haile, a lecturer at Alage Agricultural College, complains, adding that the drivers sometimes overprice. “The recent price increment is higher than usual.”
The tariff has been increased by 20pc for the Addis Abeba-Zeway line while it is 17pc for trips to Adama or Bishoftu towns.
This change is noticeable to travellers that go to one of the four bus stations in Addis Abeba – Qaliti Bus Station. It is the primary destination for vehicles which have less than 45 seats and those depart from the Oromia region, which ranks second in car population with 102,333 vehicles, next to Addis Abeba’s 524,444 vehicles.
Those sorts of vehicles get their tariffs from the regional government’s Roads Authority. The Federal Transport Authority (FTA) cannot intervene in their operation unless there is an interstate disagreement that needs to be settled, according to Kassahun Hailemariam, director general of the federal body.
There are also no plans to readjust the tariffs, except recruiting experts to analyze the market as it might lead to a price adjustment.
“Even if we undertake the research, we will not finalise it or raise any price before two months,” Mesfin Seleshi, director of Planning & Policy Research at the FTA said.
Some factors have been given for the raising of the tariffs. The first is that the Oromia Road Authority (ORA) adjusts tariffs every year, based on research, although the last tariff adjustment was made two years ago.
This recent adjustment was made after a research conducted by a team of three. They used the road standards of the region, the price of cars and fuel, and insurance costs as some of their parameters.
“It is a reasonable price increment,” Mulle Deslagen from the Authority’s Tariff Department told Fortune.
Those in the transport industry see it the other way though. The culprit is that since traffic is crowded and the quality of the roads is low, drivers and car owners are faced with having to change spare parts recurrently – and are reimbursing that cost from the pockets of passengers.
Spare parts and tyres, most of which are imported from overseas, have gained at price ever since the devaluation of the Birr by 15pc against a basket of major foreign currencies.
“The price of a tyre is almost double, while there is a 20pc hike for spare parts,” Amanuel Yalew, a retailer of imported tyres and spare parts in Qera. “The global prices have also increased; a tyre costs 10 dollars before even shipping.”
The sort of tyre used on minibuses has increased from 1,900 Br to 3,000Br at Amanuel’s shop, which is also one of the significant issues noticed by the Authority.
“Factors that are taken into consideration by the team also exist in other parts of the country, thus uniformity in the adjustment of prices is crucial,” Muluneh Dejene, a lecturer at Addis Abeba University, said. “Regions must be able to communicate better between themselves in such cases.”
The transport sector is a source of livelihood for many people. As much as 2,000 people depend on the Qaliti Bus Station, which was established in 2011 replacing the one in Leghar, to make a living. The station, which is located on the Debrezeit Road, is situated on 29,000sqm plot of land.
It serves as a destination for 850 medium and small-size vehicles departing from the south-eastern part of the nation and is visited by up to 13,000 travellers daily.
From the 16 routes from parts of the country that end at the bus station, only nine are active. The route from Semera, Hawassa and Debre Birhan are the only ones that are outside the jurisdiction of Oromiya’ Road Authority, thus with no price adjustments, when coming from there.
The Lamberet Bus Station, which is visited by 350 drivers a day, and rests on 22,000sqm of land, did not see the price hikes. But the adjustment was made on minibuses departing from Debrebirehan to Addis Abeba.
The public transportation service, Anbesa Bus, also gives services, to Bishoftu and Dukem on the South-East line, at the cost of almost half of what travellers are required to pay to mini-buses.
Another choice for travellers has been that of the recently launched Ethio-Djibouti Electric Railway Line that has offered an option for travellers at its 16 stations in Ethiopia.
The railway, inaugurated back in January, costs 0.69 Br a kilometre. This means a passenger who travellers to Adama with the train has to pay 65 Br while the mini-buses charge 41 Br.
The departure point that is on the outskirts of the city, Lebu area, also mean more expenses for travellers. The reduced speed and departure schedules likewise hamper travellers from making as much use of it.
The Authority is currently undertaking a study to adjust other tariffs for dump trucks that received classification six months ago based on their loading capacity and the model of their manufacturer, Mulle disclosed.
“The price arrangement will be based on kilometres, not by proportion,” she said.
Most travellers hear about the tariff increment from the driver who shows them the stamped copy of the new price list. Lack of proper publication thus disappoints travellers, Muluneh said.
“Tolerating future factors that can push the price higher, such as a devaluation induced a rise in the cost of fuel, through subsidies can stabilise the current rise,” Muluneh added.
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