October 15, 2020

The uncontrollable chaos of Addis Ababa’s traffic management.


When every Addis Ababa resident sets off on their day they are sure of something. They will face…

When every Addis Ababa resident sets off on their day they are sure of something. They will face tormenting transportation problems. Most residents of the city  spend hours on the journey across the city. That is money lost and time not well spent, in which both the people and the nation suffer as well.

Transportation plays a key role in modern society. Our lives are constantly based on movement as well as our assistance. When a country manages its transportation it means its people will be productive and prosperous. 

But in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia this unfortunately has not been the case even decades after the issue was first raised in the city. And with billions spent the capital did not achieve a modern transpiration system. 

As of November 2017 Ethiopia had 831,000 cars in the city and the number of cars at that time grew by more than 10 fold from the previous year. Out of the total cars 69% are found here in the capital Addis Ababa, according to the federal transport authority.

Studies reveal that Ethiopia is reported to be the country with roads in the world indicating a road crash fatality rate of at least 114 per 10.000 vehicles per year.  Among the crashes more than 60 % of them occur in Addis Ababa according to African research review.

These crashes despite their cost on the precious human lives each year also have economic, social and related impacts.

Each day residents of Addis Ababa face transportation problems in their everyday life. They have to endure long lines to wait for transportation to get to their works and school, the problem also continues after they get on the road.

The traffic jams that are seen in almost all parts of the city have been given various reasons by the experts that are studying the field. Low quality roads, the imbalance between the growth of car numbers and roads and the lack of planned infrastructure can be seen as some of the challenges facing to modernize the sector.

Another factor that has been linked to the tormenting traffic jams happening in the city is caused by traffic accidents that happen and the time it takes to clear the vehicles out of the roads. Even though car accidents happen all around the world the situation in the capital goes beyond what the eye can see and reveals deep structural management problems.

Residents of the city are faced to wait in the road for hours until the cars are taken out from the streets. To discover the reason behind these challenges Addis Zeyibe has asked the relevant authorities about the reasons behind this brutal practice in which the ordinary folks have been forced to endure.

Speaking about the situation Addis Ababa police commission public relations officer Chief Inspector Markos Tadesse says that even though traffic police have the mandate to take plans and determine which vehicles is at fault, he states that his commission have implemented a system so as any law enforcement agents can dot the place of the accident and remove the cars from the accident spot.

Chief inspector Markos however says the lack of trust among the parties involved in the accident makes it hard for them to assist the drivers and clear the roads.

“When law enforcement tries to mark the scene of the accident and clear the cars out of the road drivers are not willing to abide by their requests and always demands for the traffic police to come.  Most drivers in the city don’t even think police officers are equipped with the proper training to perform the task even though they are’’ says Markos.

Addis Ababa traffic management agency has been established as a responsible government organ to the traffic management and roads safety. The organizations’ aims is to achieve the prevalence of safe and acceptable traffic movement in the city. With that in mind we took the question to the institution. We asked the deputy director what methods his organization is implementing in collaboration with other stakeholders.  

Deputy Director of the Addis Ababa traffic management agency Semere Jilalo acknowledges car accidents play a major role in increasing the traffic jams in the city, however says his organization has no mandate whatsoever on handling traffic accidents.

“Since traffic accidents are seen as potential crimes the police handle the issue. The only task we assist the traffic police is by providing tow service to those cars which are unable to start after the accident” he says.

He also admitted there is no collaboration efforts underway by the relevant stakeholders of the city to come up with innovative solutions to solve the crisis.

As drivers themselves play a critical role as the cause of the problem we also had few words with some of them.

Kebede Tameru is one of the drivers providing taxi service in the city. For him even though drivers know that other law enforcement can clear the roads temporarily. The drivers are not willing to accept their judgment. “Especially the ones that think their cars are badly damaged fear the other party might cheat them if they move the cars without the presence of traffic police” he explains. According to Kebede major media campaigns should be done to educate the drivers at large about the impact of the situation and how they can contribute to decreasing traffic jams in the city.

Henock Abera however doesn't agree that the drivers are the only ones to be blamed for the slight car accident jams around the city. In his view the law enforcement agents are also to blame. Henock stated that they also ignore traffic accidents like it’s not their responsibility as the drivers that it’s not theirs.

“Even when they see that cars had an accident and the road is closed for a kilometer they just pass like it’s not their business. They know that they can help the cars move from the roads but they don’t do it. Community policing centers have been opened around the city to reach the society better. And at this time we have them all around the city. But they don’t do their tasks in terms of handling traffic accidents” he says stating the law enforcement is to blame for the challenge.

We have also asked the chief inspector to comment on the lack of police commitment to avoid traffic jams by minor accidents. But after giving us a phone appointment chief inspector Markos didn’t respond to our calls.

From what we have seen discovering, the transport challenges facing our city dwellers, institutions and drivers are not playing their part in decreasing this difficulty. The lack of coordination between relevant government organs. Lack of positive responses from drivers even though they themselves are affected greatly have hampered our drive to be a well managed city in the transport sphere. And when we dwell on who is to blame for the mishap all of us together are suffering the consequences of avoidable trial.