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The sudden shift of Atikilt Tera to a remote location: did the people know?

Avatar: Zemen Mekonnen
Zemen MekonnenJanuary 22, 2021
City: Addis AbabaSocietyBusiness
The sudden shift of Atikilt Tera to a remote location: did the people know?

"Atikilt Tera" is a name not so strange to many consumers of Addis Ababa. The area was where one could find vendors of fruits and vegetables all in one location. The name "Atkelt Tera" translates to a market for vegetables. This area has existed for decades and traders and ordinary individual consumers have been benefiting from its center location and suitable services.

When the coronavirus crisis hit, various cautions were taken to minimise the spread. Atkelt Tera is known for being crowded by traders and consumers thus, the vendors were moved to a place that was believed to accommodate sellers and buyers in a manner that best avoided close contact. The vendors were moved to "Jan Meda" which is an open airfield located in Addis Ababa and was named after the late Emperor Haile Selassie. 

As the precautions and the lockdown that was issued eased in the capital some merchants who were made to move from their original location were returned to their initial post. Traders that were moved from Atkelt Tera were hoping the same but that wasn't the reality. Addis Zeybe spoke with Kassahun Tesfa, a vendor at Atkelt Tera who mentioned "while vendors of other markets like Sholla were made to return to their original place that was not the case for us. We were suddenly informed that we were no longer allowed to work in the area we used to work for years,” he says.  Instead, the Mayor Office of Addis Ababa informed them it has been decided that the famous Atkelt Tera will change it's posted to a new remote location known as "Haile Garment.”

Venders Addis Zeybe spoke with, mentioned that the Mayor’s office did not discuss the issue with them. They said that they had not been included in the decision making which is the changing of posts or construction of new marts. The new market area is located around Hanna Mariam in a neighbourhood known as Haile Garment. According to the vendors, the market area is not built in a manner that fits right to its purpose and it is evident that the government did not consult with traders who prefer certain peculiar construction details pertaining to the services they offer.

Additionally, because such vendors had no information about changing of the post, some traders bought marts around Atkelt Tera hoping to start working in it after returning. Samson Teferi is one of the vendors who invested in land in the area hoping to open a market. "I had no clue the government will wake up and decide to move a well-known area of mart to a new remote location

Addis Zeybe visited the new area provided by the government. The area is located on the remote side of Addis Ababa. The place once known as a trading centre for variables and fruits by all-rounded consumers is now only available to small scale traders who buy products in bulk and can transport them so. Ordinary consumers are almost non-existent except for those few who live near the area.

Adiss Kefelegn, a trader who has a mart in Haile Garment, mentioned how it has become difficult for wholesalers and large scale farmers to provide them with merchandise because of the location and construction of the marts. “Workers who used to transport the goods from the marts to vehicles and vice-versa have been replaced by the government provided workers, putting the many young workers of Atkilt Tera out of work” she adds. 

The vendors are scared to even complain to administrators. Kassahun Tesfa says that he was threatened by a police commissioner when he took his complaint to the media. "The commissioner told me to stop giving any information to the media," he adds. The traders also claim that there have been racial biases towards some groups saying some groups were favoured more than others. "They are provided with better and wider marts' ' Kassahun mentioned. Addis Zeybe tried to contact the people from the Mayor’s Office of Addis Ababa that were concerned, only to be told that they could not provide any information and denied the allegations of racial bias by stating "we handled the Atkelt Tera project as part of the city reconstruction and beautification plan and matters were handled in a well-calculated plan."

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A PIECE BYZemen Mekonnen

Zemen Mekonnen is a Content Creater at Addis Zeybe. She is a graduate from Addis Abeba University School of Law and Governance.