We can all agree that getting transportation means to get to one place to another is currently one of the hardest things to do here in Addis Ababa. Pushing, shoving and stepping on people to get a seat on a minibus taxi is now a common practice seen everywhere. And these days another common is people standing in very long lines waiting for a taxi during rush hour.
One afternoon around four O’clock I stepped out of my office located around Bole Medhanealem. I was trying to get a taxi to get to Mexico and I had to get there in less than an hour, and so I started waiting for a taxi to come. There were many other people standing around to get a taxi as well and from the frustration that is seen on their tired faces I could tell that they have been standing around waiting for a while. Taxis come one by one but all of them turn out to be full, so I decided to be smart and go to Bole Deldey and get the taxi from the source.
That was a good decision on my part except that on my way to Bole Deldey I got stuck in traffic for almost 20 minutes, that particular journey used to take 5 minutes on a good day. Getting a little bit frustrated, I started to think what the main cause of this problem was, did the taxis suddenly got fewer or something else?
It was never like this, people did not have to wait for a taxi for more than an hour every day to get somewhere. At around 4:30 I finally got a taxi that would take me to Kazanchis. On my way there inevitably I once again got stuck in one of the worst traffic jams. The Urael area is known for its long and very slow moving traffic. While sitting and contemplating, I realized that the problem is not just that there is not transportation, but even if you get a taxi you will not get to your destination because of the traffic jam everywhere due to the vast construction activities being done everywhere.
Sitting in traffic could be really maddening, you might even say that sometimes it is better to walk to places than use a car. It seems like the cars only move an inch every 3 minutes. At 5:10 I got to Kazancihs and low and behold, the line of people who are waiting for the Mexico taxi goes all the way around the block. As soon as seeing that, I got completely discouraged and decided to just walk a little bit. By the time I walked until Hilton Hotel I decided to stop and try my chances of catching a taxi, I ended up standing for over 30 minutes. I see people around me talking on their cell phones explaining to whoever they are meeting up with why they were so late, “I have been waiting for a taxi for an hour but there is nothing! The roads are all closed because of the traffic,” they say.
Around 5:50, I decided I was never going to get to my destination if I waited for a taxi any longer so I decided to take the small taxi, paying 70 birr to go from the Hilton Hotel to Mexico.
An older gentleman was my driver; he was very enthusiastic when I suggested paying 70 birr for such a short distance. I got into the taxi thinking to myself “What a relief!” The driver, Melaku a cheerful and an outspoken man, immediately started talking to me about different things like his childhood, how he grew up in Sebeta and how things were really simple there. Almost 40 minutes into our drive and we still hadn’t reached Mexico. I could see Melaku’s face slowly changing from happy go lucky to fade up, he started complaining that driving a taxi or any vehicle was not worth it anymore.
After some time, around 20 minutes to seven o’clock, my driver finally got me to my destination. I got there almost two hours late. Melaku wished me luck and I gave him what I owed him and we parted ways.
This is what happens every day, going somewhere is not as easy as just getting a taxi anymore. It seems that a person would have to start their journey at 2 o’clock for a rendezvous at 4 o’clock. The transport problems seem to be getting worse. It almost seems like a joke when a person said it took them over an hour to get a taxi but it is very much true, I hope that this problem will be solved very soon.
In the mean time, the public should start getting used to walking to their destination, which is healthy and much less time consuming.