By Haile-Gebriel Endashaw
ADDIS ABABA – Bajaj will soon resume services in Addis Ababa, sources said. The Transport Bureau of Addis Ababa City Administration disclosed yesterday that the restricted three-wheeled light vehicles, Bajajs, would soon come back into roads.
Bureau head Mitiku Asmare said in connection with the recent controversy that his Bureau has been engaged in enhancement works to improve the service provisions of Bajaj transport across the City. He also urged Bajaj owners and passengers to wait patiently until the enhancement work is finalized.
Mitiku said that the Bajaj services have resumed around areas where big public transport vehicles are not available, near communal residential quarters and the outskirts of the City. So far, the services have been expanded to eight of the eleven sub-cities in Addis, according to him.
In an effort the City administration has put forth to restart the Bajaj service, 9,950 Bajaj owners were planned to be organized under 123 associations and deployed to eight sub-cities; but many of them have not yet been registered. As the City Administration has finalized what should be done, all Bajajs will go back to work.
The City Administration restricted Bajaj transport service as of March 09/2023 in the Capital for an unspecified period.
Addis Ababa City dwellers expressed dismay saying that, “they are suffering the consequences of the measure” taken to deter the Bajaj transport service. Addis Maleda reported by approaching Addis Abebans that many areas particularly those in the outskirts of the city are facing transportation problems. Some have been forced to utilize carts pulled by horses. Others who are dependent on Bajaj for their survival are facing life-threatening problems. Some said that their income has totally stopped after the restriction.
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When did these notorious air polluters come into that country for the 2nd time? There were similar vehicles that were used as taxis which my adopted uncle and I hired as a ride from the railway station in Dire Dawa in the late 1950’s or very early 1960’s to his business partners residence. It was unforgettable experience. The vehicle was a three wheelers and if I remembered that correctly the city’s residence called it ‘kurkura or something like that’. Those of you old enough from that city and that period can tell us the correct name. I remember we had to cross a wide dry riverbed and that vehicle got stuck in the middle of it. Such vehicles and all others two wheel cars of that era never came with an LSD better known as positraction. So we were forced to get out of the vehicle and push it all the way to the other side of the river. But during our 2nd trip there in the late 1960’s that 3-wheeler was gone replaced by Peugeots and other European made cars used as taxis and lightweight merchandise haulers. I even remember seeing a Mercedes station wagon being used as khat transporter. I never thought Mercedes was any more expensive and prestigious until I came to this country in the early 1970’s. People would kill to drive a Mercedes here. In any case such 3-wheeler vehicles used as taxis are brutal to the air quality of cities. Several cities in many countries have banned them altogether and have shown improvements to their air quality. But it should be carried in phases. We have to remember that so many citizens(possibly millions with those they support included) make honest living using these vehicles as bread earners. They should be provided with amicable alternatives. If not that will be just cruel. In this day of rideshare app services it will be very tough for them to upgrade to regular taxis. They should be provided with effective transitional help by the city and federal government. Of course that is just my two cents worth of an opinion.