The first in Sub Saharan Africa, Ethiopia’s electrified modern urban train made history joining the few African capitals with urban train facilities. The $475 Million worth environment friendly light railway transport will start service on Sunday September 20, 2015 charging the lowest fare of 2 Birr per 4km.
The long awaited light rail transport is to solve the perpetual problem of the capital city commonly referred as the capital city of Africa due to the presence of the African Union headquarters. African head of states acknowledges potholed roads and missing rail links get in the way of economic growth. Evidencing this intra-regional trade accounts for just 13% of total commerce lagging far behind than the 53% in Asia. Promoting further road constructions and networks governments are undertaking major projects to fill the infrastructural gap.
This is a good news for Ethiopia which has become one of the popular destination in Africa for business and leisure travelers. Ethiopia’s light rail urban train will join the cointient modern transportation system paving constructive influence said Estelle Verdier, Managing Director of Jovago.com in East and Southern Africa.
Similar with other Africa’s sprawling commercial capitals, Addis Ababa the third largest global diplomatic city, getting somewhere is increasingly tough due to few number of minibuses, private buses, old taxis, and public buses which does not cope with the population growth of the second most populous country in the continent. Weak, fragmented, underfunded transportation and poor road infrastructures has been the common characteristics of many countries in the continent.
Abiy Sinke a medical doctor works in three different clinics. He uses public transport to get to his office to examine his patients. I always spend so much time on the road waiting for transport he says. “Sometimes I can even line up for hours waiting for a minibus to come.” “I could not wait to welcome the train on sunday and to take my first ride.”
On the other hand some of the public members still show hesitation to use the train for safety reasons. “Although the train has been proved to be the safest and fastest way of transportation I do not feel secure to use it so soon” said Giram Ayele a retired public servant. However the entire public is united to proudly welcome the train to the Addis Ababa public transport system.
Public buses are exhausted after running overloaded for years on rutted roads. Although public transport fares are low, few number of operators forces commuters to walk a long way and take sits as an extra customer violating traffic regulations. The rising use of private automobiles has eased the burden on the public transportation. However price of cars remained to be higher unable to make significant change.
As Africa became the commercial hub governments are moving quickly creating modernized transport facilities to meet the growing demand of the local and international customers. They are working towards organized regulation, licensing, inspections, monitoring, and enforcement of the sector inserting larger public buses to the system.
According to the World Bank data by 2030 it’s estimated that one in two will live in African urban cities increasing the demand. Most these cities are growing rapidly, and, as populations have grown, so have city boundaries which now extend into contiguous areas. Cities such as Addis Ababa, Lagos, Nairobi, Accra, Dakar and Dar Es Salaam are among the countries which urban population is inadequately served by the transport system.
Less than half of these countries roads are paved, reducing transportation accessibility in densely populated neighborhoods and remote areas. Paved roads make just one-third of the average of cities in the developing countries. The road network is substandard with deteriorating and poor street pavements. These conditions reduce vehicle speeds increasing traffic congestion.
Improving these realities, Addis Ababa long awaited light rail joined Morocco, Abidjan, Johannesburg, Algeria and Cairo modern urban train service. Now that states are more float towards urban rail transport many expect that the system will ease the transportation problem.