Dysfunctional Light Rail Clogs Commutes In Capital | The Reporter

Things go from bad to worse for the capital’s ailing light rail system as it comes to light that more than half of the train cars under the Addis Ababa Light Rail and Railway Corporation are in-operational.

No less than 23 of the Corporation’s 41 train cars have been rendered immobile by wear and tear, according to Aklilu Hibso, operations director at the Corporation.

The City Administration, which oversees the Corporation, says it will be providing capital for the import of necessary spare parts, establishing a committee to deal with the issues. The committee is tasked with securing the budget for the spare parts, and carrying out the procurement process.

Although city officials have not specified a figure for the spare parts procurements, reports indicate the committee has obtained ‘substantial’ funding for its objectives.

Mayor Adanech Abiebie recently stated that the cost of maintaining the light rail is “heavy” and mentioned the city’s 10-year strategy includes a solution for the ills plaguing the rail, although she did not specify what exactly the solution is.

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Meanwhile, Addis Ababa’s commuters are the hardest hit by the operational challenges, and passenger numbers have fallen as a result. The light-rail can only manage to serve a small portion of the 80,000 daily commuters it was envisioned for transport.

The latest bout of problems are certainly the first in the eight years that the light rail has been operational.

Two years ago, the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (then in charge of the light rail system) was forced to hire two Chinese firms to handle the rail’s maintenance due to a shortage of qualified professionals.

Execs had no choice but to turn to CREC Shenzhen Metro Group, which had finished its three-year maintenance contract with the Corporation, for help.

The 34 kilometer light rail has also struggled with power outages and the theft of cables since it was opened for service in November 2015.

Mayor Adanech has criticized the rail for its shortcomings, saying the construction of the light rail did not take into consideration the city’s other infrastructure and transportation needs.

The Addis Ababa Light Rail cost nearly USD half a billion to build.

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