Ethiopia’s tramway struggles to match expectations

Addis-Ababa – The Addis Ababa tramway is one of the few examples of urban public transport infrastructure in a continent where public transport system is severally constrained.

But 14 months after it was inaugurated, the tramway is struggling to match user expectations.

Problems with the design of the route, abnormally fast wear and tear resulting in breakdowns and delays has not unblocked the streets of the Ethiopian capital.

And despite offering a slightly advantageous tariff on long journeys, the network of constantly overloaded private minibuses still remains the only option for majority of the inhabitants.

Zerayakob Assefa, a retired man, is waiting for the train which is supposed to take him to the eastern suburbs. But when the tram finally arrives, 15 minutes later, it is so crowded that he can not get on board. Assefa is nevertheless positive and says the tram, “is better than nothing”.

Further on, an exasperated passenger escapes from a packed car, then lashes out: “I will never take it again.”

Inaugurated in September 2015 and largely financed by Chinese funds, the first modern sub-Saharan tramway was build to help de-congest the capital of the continent’s second most populous country.

The project has already attracted the attention of other African capitals, such as Lagos and Nairobi, who are also planning to launch their own streetcars.

The government had presented the two-line 34 km long system as a jewel of the “new Ethiopia” and an example of the spin-offs of the strong economic growth of the country, one of the most dynamic on the continent, with nearly 10% growth in 2015, according to the World Bank.

Source: Angola Press News Agency