Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Despite plans, parking spaces remain un-built

Mekuria Haile, former general manager of Addis Ababa City Administration,

told journalists some three years back that his office has formed a strategy to develop parking lots throughout the city to solve the parking space shortage.
At the time the general manager, who is now minister of Construction and Urban Development, said that his administration will construct the parking facility within a short period of time. But the city is still going without sufficient parking spaces as new ones have not been built yet.
Parking remains a serious problem affecting both drivers and pedestrians.
Desalegn Abate, who has driven a minibus for over ten years, says that he is forced to drop riders in the middle of the road, which is illegal, due to lack of on-street parking (terminal) spaces. “When I stop my taxi in the middle of the road to drop or collect taxi users, vehicles behind me have to wait until I drive off,” Desalegn said. “Sometimes the roads are congested by vehicles; particularly during peak hours because of the huge amount of taxis the road,” he added.
According to this taxi driver, with the limited parking spaces in the city, they cannot drop their customers at the specific location that customers want them to. “This kind of problem has created disagreement between taxi drivers and customers,” he explained.
Various social and economic problems are being faced by Addis Ababa that is celebrating its 125th anniversary this week end. Still lack of sufficient transportation is a major difficulty although the city administration is said to be working on it with huge budget allocation to construct new roads. “The transportation fluidity problem is not expected to be solved with just the construction of new roads; the city administration needs to see related aspects to develop the sector,” an expert on urban planning said. 
According to studies, sufficient parking facilities are one of the major focus to develop Addis Ababa’s transportation structure.
According to the city administration plan, the road from Meskel Square to Megenagna and from Meskel Square to Bole International Airport are priority areas that need immediate parking lots as there is a large concentration of vehicles in these areas that lack sufficient parking facilities compared with the traffic flow.
According to Mekuria, the city planned to demolish selected residential houses located behind the two roads to make them available for parking and green space.
Addis Ababa has a large concentration of motorized vehicles. About 80 percent of the total vehicles in the country operate in the city. In 2011, registered vehicles in the capital city have reached 202,123. It has 27.72 percent growth when compared with 2006 data that was 158,252.
This number is expected to be growing at a rapid pace with the development of the socio-economic activity of the city and growing purchasing power of its people. This challenge demands proactive planning to accommodate the growth.
The existing parking service is inadequate and suffers from structural problems, mainly street parking.
“Consequently it has contributed to inefficient utilization of the road network, safety and congestion problems. Thus parking remains one of the critical issues that need to be addressed through the transport planning of the city,” a study conducted by Korean Knowledge Sharing Program suggested. “Comparative parking policy including parking norms and space standards and development of off street and on street parking facilities are commendable,” a similar study recommended.
The number of paid parking places on street increased from 19 in 2003 to 72 in 2008. Management of parking spaces are left to registered parking operators’ associations. Parking related jobs increased from 207 in 2003 to 1,244 in 2008.
In addition to this, the yearly revenue generated from the service increased from 2.1 million birr to 8.3 million birr during that period. However the on-street parking has resulted in a negative impact on the efficient utilization of road network capacity, contributing to congestion.
One of the proposals of the revised master plan of the city is the provision of adequate parking spaces by developing proper off-street parking facilities to reduce bottlenecks and congestion at critical road intersections and locations.
Parking in Addis Ababa is very critical, most parking is done on the street and like the taxi driver complained, it clogs major transportation arteries.  Parking demands exceed available supply. There has not been sufficient off-street parking available or developed over the last ten years of the master plan’s implementation period. Off-street parking is usually found in private and government premises, or fuel stations. In few areas small underground parking is available under high rise buildings.
According to studies there seems to exist no comparative parking strategy. “Neither the city’s transport authority, nor Addis Ababa City Roads Authority nor Urban Land Administration of Addis Ababa claim responsibility to the development of off-street parking,” the South Korean study said. There is not clear institutional linkages with those supposed to be responsible for parking development. In addition, there is no responsible agency to claim for the development of parking of different forms -off-street parking, parking lot, underground garage, multi-storey parking.