Could Electric bus soon become Addis Ababa’s reality?


Two years ago an ambitious plan to introduce Trolley-buses in Addis Ababa was drafted but that project never materialized.

According to Getachew Eshetu (Engineer), Owner and Managing Director of Afro Asia Trading Enterprise, the Addis Ababa Mayor  Kuma Demeksa had given him a letter of acceptance on February 23, 2010 to go ahead with the plan of introducing electric bus in the capital city.

Getachew told Capital that “The government sent a delegation to different countries including Russia and France to study the operation of electric buses. They told me that it is the best option for overcoming the transportation problem that Addis is currently facing.”  He added, “I was very happy when I received Kuma’s letter instructing me to begin operation. Originally I wanted to implement my plan from CMC through Meskel square up to Torhailoch road. But they (officials at the city administration) advised me to have the line from St. George Church through Belay Zeleke road up to Dil Ber. I agreed and  brought two buses from Russia at the cost of 5 million birr each.”

Capital learnt that the line installation won’t take more than six weeks. “I was given a plot of land to construct a trolley bus terminal in Addis Ababa. And I was close to constructing sub-stations on the road to Dil Ber. But there emerged a new idea suggesting we work jointly with the Addis Ababa Bus Enterprise, (popularly known as Anbesa). I also agreed. But the enterprise later changed its mind and went for another project. After a long wait, I again asked to start the project on my own. But I found it difficult to turn myself from my dream of having an electric bus service in Addis Ababa become a reality because of bureaucratic impediment,” he told Capital.

The Addis Ababa City Transportation Bureau said that the issue was raised once but the case has been handled by the City Administration Technical office. “I don’t know much about the project. I don’t also know why and how it failed to be implemented. The case is being handled by the Addis Ababa City Administration office,” an official at the Addis Transportation Bureau who requested anonymity said by telephone.  Capital’s effort to get the information from the City didn’t bear fruit.

Eng. Getachew is determined to implement his plan. “Last week I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the matter with the officials of the Diaspora Engagement Affairs Directorate. This is an office that works to assist with problems the Diaspora face. I am hopeful that I will get a positive response soon,” he remarked.

Electric buses are widely giving service in Eastern Europe. In the U.S.A trolley bus service is set to start in the year 2020. Eng. Getachew believes that it is the best mass transport system for Ethiopia. Getachew had been living in New York, the United States of America, for over six years. His family is still living there. His two children are living in Russia.

Here, Eng. Getachew is running the Get Eshet Detergent and Packing PLC located in Debre Zeit. He said that he was able to buy the electric buses through his children living in Russia. “I don’t lose hope that I can make this project work. I believe that electric busses are environmentally friendly and very economical as their electric consumption is very low,” he concluded.