New light rail system in Addis Ababa

photo Addis Ababa

A light rail system currently under construction in Addis Ababa promises to be a welcome addition to the morning commute in the Ethiopian capital, one of the world’s fastest growing metropolises where the population is currently expanding at an annual rate of 3.8%.

The light rail network is set to offer greater comfort and capacity to commuters in the capital, a city in which the main form of public transport is currently provided by an informal network of minibuses, endearingly referred to by locals as ‘blue donkeys’. 

The 34.24km network, based on two initial lines, one running north-south from Menelik Square to Kaliti and the other running east-west from Ayat to Tor Hailoch is set for completion in January 2015.

Planning ahead to meet growing demand

Addis Ababa’s ‘blue donkeys’ are complemented with buses from the state-owned company, Anbessa, which provides vital services to low-income residents. There is, however, an increasing discrepancy between supply and demand, according to Mulugeta Gudeta of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations.

“The state of public transportation in Addis Ababa is perhaps the weakest link in the otherwise fast growing economy in the Ethiopian capital,” says Gudeta in an article published on the Chamber’s website. “The shortage of public transport has assumed such a big dimension that workers often find it difficult to reach their workplaces in time or reach home early in the evening.

“The paradox is that despite the improved state of roads in Addis and the regular importation of public transport vehicles, demand seems to always outstrip supply and many residents are regularly complaining about it,” Gudeta adds.

It is hoped that the light rail network, 85% financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and constructed by the China Railway Group will go some way to alleviating these difficulties by offering capacity for 15,000 passengers per hour per direction, not to mention a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

As well as providing the 41 trams, Chinese company CNR will supply the training of the 50 Ethiopian drivers and maintenance staff.

Other rail systems are also in the pipeline in sub-Saharan Africa, with projects currently under construction in Abuja (light rail) and Lagos (rail mass transit). 

UATP 2014: boosting public transport in Africa

The South African city of Johannesburg will play host this October to the 3rd Congress and Exhibition of African Public Transport. The event will be held under the slogan: ‘Growing Africa through an Effective Public Transport System,’ and is expected to attract over 300 local and international speakers, delegates and exhibitors.

The Congress is organised by UATP, the African Division of UITP, in association with the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport and Gautrain Management Agency.

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