Ethiopia now has the distinction of being the first Sub-Saharan African country to have a metro system, which at full capacity, will transport 1 million people per day, reports CNN.
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Like many cities throughout Africa, Ethiopia has long relied on taxis or minibuses for transport, but with a congested city in Addis Ababa, these taxis often end up inching along in traffic.
Three years ago, government leaders decided to partner with the Chinese in order to make a lasting investment in the country.
Ethiopian Railways Corporation CEO Getachew Betru explains, “The light rail is not a commercial business, it is a social infrastructure. Economically it’s not very expensive; the longest you go, you pay nothing more than 30¢.
“It is reliable, you can time yourself to go anywhere you want to go. So the convenient effect will give an added value to the city of Addis.”
Echoing the accessibility of the metro system, Ethiopian Minister of Transport Ato Workeneh Gebeyehu said, “When the government thought of constructing this, it was for low income people, the people who are using the minibuses.
“The majority of the users who move from the city [and] travel from here to there, [are] people who are working in the factories, government offices and so on and so forth…. Most of them cannot afford expensive transportation.”
Minibus driver Yared Tesfaye welcomes the new system, saying that it is clear the metro will complement his business when one considers the numbers.
“The train will not solve all transportation issues; its users are mostly long distance travelers. People use taxis firstly because it’s cheap, secondly because they stop frequently between small distances,” he says.
“In Addis Ababa there’s a population of 4 million people of which 3.5 million are minibus taxi users. The train is expected to transport around 1.5 million people. We taxi drivers will probably transport the rest.”