By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 12, 2020
The huge compound, located around Gerji and commonly known as ‘Anbessa Garage’, that serves as the head office and maintenance center of the Anbessa City Bus Transport is being demolished. Mr. Teferra Kasa, the chairman of the workers’ union of the organization, told Deutsche Welle (DW) that workers were told that the order came directly from the Mayor, Mr. Takele Uma, himself.
The compound rests on 98,000 square meters and hosts 350 buses. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, vehicle maintenance centers in the city. Other public transportation providers also send their vehicles here when they are in need of service.
According to Mr. Teferra, such a decision should not have been made without a meeting of stakeholders, including the workers. However, in the present case, even the executives of the company did not have a say in the matter. They told the workers, in response to their inquiries, the order was given by the mayor himself, not in writing but verbally.
The suggested replacement for the compound is a rented compound somewhere else. As can be easily understood, this would mean, among other things, a major increment in cost for the company.
Mr. Teferra said that such a decision doesn’t make sense at all, especially since they have been told that 3,000 new vehicles have been ordered to increase the company’s capacity. The only motive he sees behind the decision is the city administration’s desire to destroy living footprints of the city’s history. And this is the second instance in which such a motive revealed itself in the last two years. The first was when the company’s logo was modified recently. Many felt, then, that the new logo didn’t exactly look like a lion.
The Anbessa city bus is one of the oldest modern public institutions of the city. It was established 78 years ago, during Haile Selassie’s reign. It was the only public owned transportation service in the city for a long time, until new such services came into being in recent years. It was, and still is, a major part of the daily lives of the inhabitants of Addis, providing the cheapest means around the city. Currently, it employs more than 4,500 workers.
As is characteristic of public institutions established during Haile Selassie’s time, its logo was that of a lion. In fact its name, Anbessa, also means ‘Lion’.
Through the years, especially after the fall of the Derg, the image of lions was removed from the logos of many of these organizations, including the Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio-telecom, and the Electric Power service.
Mr. Teferra said that he believes the demolition, like the modification of the logo, is an attempt to destroy the city’s living history.
Like Mr. Teferra, many people have been, of late, accusing Abiy’s government, and especially the city administration under Mr. Takele, of working intentionally to demolish historical buildings, monuments and other structures in the city. The last two months have witnessed controversies surrounding, among others, an attempted demolition of the country’s first cinema, the renewal of Mesqel square, statues of two peacocks built in front of the palace compound.
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