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  • Rail or Road, Commuters Are Still Waiting

    Lili Fekadu, a private employee waiting for the LRT for over 30 minutes. Picture: AddisFortune

    Among the people sitting at the Anbessa Bus Station seats at Legahar, waiting for the number 67 bus to Kaliti was Bekele Ejeta, 38, a public servant. He had been waiting for 15 minutes, when Fortune met him. He had been at the stadium with friends, and he chose the bus over the train to return home to Saris.

    After the light rail transit service was launched on Sunday September 20, 2015, he had used it once, and that was enough for him.

    “I used it one morning when I left home, but the service that I found was not what I had expected,” he complained. “When I heard that the light rail transit service would be launched last week, I was very excited, expecting that the transportation hassles I face every day would no longer continue. But that was only a dream,” Bekele said.

    Even though the transportation challenges in terms of the availability of balanced transportation services in line with the growing population of the city are not a new scenario, it was in August 2011 that the first initiative to reduce the problem of transportation was made by framing transport policy. The policy was drafted with a general objective of providing reasonably priced, safe, efficient, accessible and comfortable transport services to the city’s residents.

    Two issues the policy emphasised were expansion of transport infrastructure and integration of the city’s transportation institutions, which also have capacity limitations.

    In June, 2014, the Addis Abeba City Administration Transport Bureau (AACATB) put a restriction on the transfer of taxis registered in Addis Abeba, to locations outside the city through any kind of sale, to resolve the gap in transportation supply. Another decision which preceded that one by a year, banned taxis from changing their codes, forcing them to continue as taxis.

    The fragmented efforts of balancing the supply of transportation were not limited to the above bans. Anbessa City Transport Service Enterprise, which was under Privatization & Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency and is now under the city’s administration, has added more buses, to bolster a system that already has other buses, including Higer buses, as well as blue and white and other minibuses. Despite its limitations, the light rail transit that began giving service one week ago is the latest addition.

    Binyam Assefa has been a mini bus taxi driver for over 10 years. For him the railway transportation services may have a contribution in meeting the demand, although he doubts the transportation problem will be eliminated.

    “The same hopes and the same expectations were there when the Higer buses were introduced,” he remembered. “There was even a saying that ‘taxis would no more appear in the sector’. But that did not happen, because the demand for quality transportation services was not yet realised.”

    The ultimate policy drive is to remove the minibus taxis from the sector and replace them by mass transportation systems mainly by buses, because they have higher emissions and are crowding the city, according to an official closed to the case. To implement its ultimate goal and resolve the shortage of the transportation facilities, the Federal Transportation Authority had told taxi owners to organise themselves into share companies, after which the government would extend to them as much as 70pc loan financing in a bid to introduce 500 buses into the transport service; the vehicles would also be imported duty free.

    Demand still outstrips supply in a city where transport coverage is 60pc, according to an official at the Authority.

    Birhanu Degefa a Lada taxi driver welcomes the mass transportation efforts the government is steering, which he says is an indication of the government’s attention to the private transport sector. But he has doubts about the efforts, stressing that the initiatives need to be supported by clear directives and frameworks.

    “Even though the previous and current efforts are good in resolving the transportation problem of the city, the trend is that there is no clearly defined body that takes responsibility for their implementation. After some time they cease,” Birhanu said.

    A driver at Anbessa, Kedanemaryam Weldegiorgis, notes that the challenge to quality and efficient services was not only the shortage of transportation facilities, but also, and more importantly, the lack of well skilled management expertise and systems.

    Beside the Lada taxis which are being organised through the Authority, minibus taxi associations are also organising themselves under companies.

    The government had been thinking about forcing the minibus taxis out of the market by introducing mass transport buses into the market as early as when the LRT project was initiated. Now with commencement of the LRT service, the Addis Abeba Transport Authority is considering making adjustments to the other transport services in the city, although officials are not saying much about it.

    “It is early to make adjustments. The light rail way transportation system has not fully started operation. It is just one line so far and we are planning on the adjustment,” replied Communications Officer at the Addis Abeba Transport Authority, Genet Dibaba, when asked if there would be any adjustments of the service by the sector following the LRT launch.

    Now in its first week, the service was far from satisfactory for Bekele, who had expected a lower fare, less waiting time, less crowding and more speed.

    “I was forced to wait for more than 45 minutes until the train arrived at the Kaliti terminal.” he said.

    Once in he was disappointed that he had to stand all the way, pushing with the big crowd inside. It was the same in the Anbessa buses, he said, but at least he paid less there.

    “The service charge for the railway services is four Birr with all the discomfort and waiting. But I could get the same service on the same line by Anbessa bus for only two Birr,” he complained.

    Another commuter, Defaru Awese, a cook, used the LRT two times before deciding to stick to the Higer buses and taxis. His reason was that the waiting was still the same and the price almost the same as taxis.

    “But still my expectations are not met in terms of speed and waiting hours,” said Defaru.

    Source: AddiFortune

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  • Muslim Ethiopians Celebrate Eid-al-Fatir

    Ethiopian Muslims celebrated Eid-al-Fatir today, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The Day is celebrated colorfully, especially in Addis Ababa.

    Sheikh Muhammed Amin Jemal from Islamic Affairs Supreme Council said on the Addis Ababa celebration said, the Muslim community should exert utmost efforts to the development of the country.

    President of Islamic Affairs Supreme Council Dr. Ahmed Abdurahman on his part said, we should enhance tolerance, and we should fight against extremism.

    The Muslim community, Diplomats and invited guests attended the event.

    Source: EBC

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  • Turkey aid agency renovates historic Ethiopia mosque

    The Nejashi Mosque is one of the world’s earliest mosques, built in the fourth century by the companions of Prophet Mohammed, who – exiled from Arabia by the Qurayshi pagans – came to Ethiopia, where they found a welcome refuge. 

    Located in the town of Wukro in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray State some 800 kilometers from Addis Ababa, the Islamic monument is now undergoing major renovations thanks to the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). 

    “We are delighted to have the opportunity to give this iconic Islamic monument the renovation it deserves,” Ismail Durhat, TIKA’s country coordinator for Ethiopia, told Anadolu Agency. 

    According to Durhat, the plan to renovate the Nejashi Mosque began some four years ago, with the actual renovation process beginning last year. 

    “The plan is being implemented in two phases; it is due to be finalized in 2016,” he said. 

    The site also hosts the tombs of the 15 companions of Prophet Muhamamd, who introduced Islam to Ethiopia. Landmarks, therefore, will be erected outside each mausoleum, said Durhat, explaining each of the companions’ respective history. 

    Since the site remains a functioning mosque in which Muslims still perform prayers, the renovations also include construction of a smooth track to ease access for those with disabilities, Durhat explained. 

    A number of auxiliary structures will also be built, including accommodations for guests, a visitors’ lounge and lavatories. 

    According to Durhat, the renovations – the cost of which is being borne entirely by TIKA – are being carried out by both Turkish and Ethiopian engineers with a view to ensuring that the mosque’s original architecture remains intact. 

    “The entire project is aimed at preserving heritage,” he said. “Hopefully, the mosque will become a major destination for religious tourism.” 


    Sheikh Adem Abdulkadir, president of Tigray State’s Supreme Council Islamic Affairs, said the regional state government and local inhabitants were pleased about the restoration effort. 

    “Ramadan [the Islamic fasting month, which began July 18] is a month of compassion,” he said. “So we are doubly blessed by the current effort to renovate the ancient mosque, which has long served as a repository of Islam.” 

    “Ethiopia’s King Nejashi [for whom the mosque was named] was a benevolent king, who should be credited with saving the Prophet’s companions from persecution when they arrived in his land,” said Adem. “The history of Nejashi – and the ancient mosque of Nejashi – means a great deal to Ethiopia and the world.” 

    In recent years, TIKA, Turkey’s official overseas development agency, has been very active in Ethiopia, where it has provided support in the areas of health, education and heritage preservation. 

    In addition to renovating the Al-Nejashi Mosque, Durhat said that TIKA also recently undertook the renovation of an Ottoman-era building in Ethiopia’s Harari state. 

    The agency, he noted, had also helped build schools in several parts of the country, including the Afar, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regional states.


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  • New Human Species Discovered In Ethiopia Added To Human Evolution Tree

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    A fossil find adds another twig to the human evolutionary tree, giving further evidence that the well-known “Lucy” species had company in what is now Ethiopia, a study says.

    A lower jaw, plus jaw fragments and teeth, dated at 3.3 million to 3.5 million years old, were found in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia four years ago.

    That shows a second human ancestor lived in about the same area and time frame as Lucy’s species, researchers said. But not everyone agrees.

    In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature, the researchers announce the new find and assign it to a species they dubbed Australopithecus deyiremeda (aw-strah-low-PIH’-thuh-kus day-eh-REH’-meh-dah). In the Afar language the second name means “close relative,” referring to its apparent relationship to later members of the evolutionary tree.

    But nobody knows just how it’s related to our own branch of the family tree, said Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who led the discovery team. 

    Yohannes Haile-Selasie studies bones from Australopithecus deyiremeda in his laboratory at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. (Photo: Laura Dempsey, Cleveland Museum of Natural History/AP)

    But nobody knows just how it’s related to our own branch of the family tree, said Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who led the discovery team.

    Our branch, which includes Homo sapiens and our closest extinct relatives, arose from the evolutionary grouping that now includes the new creature as well as Lucy’s species. The new arrival, and the possibility of still more to come, complicates the question of which species led to our branch, he said.

    Previously, fossilized foot bones found in 2009 near the new discovery site had indicated the presence of a second species. But those bones were not assigned to any species, and it’s not clear whether they belong to the newly identified species either, Haile-Selassie said. If they don’t, that would indicate yet another species from the same time and region as Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis

    Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who didn’t participate in the new work, said the discovery provides “compelling evidence” that a second creature lived in the vicinity of Lucy’s species at the same time. The next question, he said, is how they shared the landscape.

    “These fossils certainly create an agenda for a lot of interesting research that’s going to be done in the next decade,” Wood said.

    As evidence that the new fossils represent a previously unknown species, the researchers cite specific anatomical differences with known fossils. But Tim White, a University of California, Berkeley, expert in human evolution, was unimpressed.

    He said he thinks the fossils actually come from Lucy’s species.

    “Anatomical variation within a biological species is normal,” he said in an email. “That’s why so many announcements of this sort are quickly overturned.”


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  • Priest, bishop banned from church

    CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A dispute at a Charlotte church has led to members being banned from church property, the firing of the church's priest and a lawsuit in state court.

    At issue in the lawsuit is whether or not the head of the parish council at Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Dr. Solomon Gugsa, improperly changed the church's bylaws to extend his term and alter membership requirements to exclude those who disagree with him.

    VIDEO: WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

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