Welcome to Socialist Ethiopia

Not a while ago the government set the price of certain commodities. Those prices were decided by government and some of the items were in short supply. A lot of people were suspicious about the measures where the government is heading to. Instead of creating a competitive environment, it will fractures small businesses. In the same time, some products, like beverages were included and it questioned the ideology behind it.

I personally believe, in the country where the market is highly influenced by few individuals these kind of measures are important. I believe the intentions behind this market regulation is not political or to benefit certain businesses. It is important that the government regulates market flows but increasing production and competitiveness.

Minibus Taxi

Recently, the same kind of measure was taken with Minibus taxi’s route. Today, most of the minibuses were not on the road. They are protesting the decision by the government. People were standing in the side of road for hours waiting for transportation. Normally taxi prices were fixed by the government. The city administration regulates the price depends on the petroleum price. Now with the new rules, the minibus taxis should have label which indicates a fixed source and destination. Minibuses can’t decide where to go anywhere except the single destinations which they are assigned to.

What are the advantages?

Minibuses usually cheat the passengers without going the full distance. (i.e instead of going from point A to B, they only take people half way and ask for more money for the second half).For example, they usually take people from 4kilo to Shoa Dabo instead of Bole directly. The price from 4kilo to Bole is 3.80ETB. But from 4 kilo to Shoa Dabo is 2.60 ETB, the same is true from Shoa Dabo to Bole.

This decision also boosts the traffic control. Usually, it is hard to track accidents. Now with this rule, the traffic police can easily locate a specific minibus.

What are the disadvantages?

Like what many people suspect, these kinds of measures questions how far the government wants to involve in private businesses. Ethiopia is capitalist. It seems that it is not true anymore. With more social oriented decisions, it indicates that the government is heading to Socialism. A single person represent the opposition parties also confirm the ideology. It is a one man playing game.

In this specific decision, it will cause shortage of transportation. I noticed that in area like from Meskel flower to Agona cinema, there are about 20 minibuses standing almost the whole day for nothing. Usually, these minibuses were only working at the pick time (evenings and early mornings), and work other places in the day times. This is not possible anymore.

The label is written in Amharic. Addis Ababa is an international city with a lot of foreigners. Many tourists use minibus taxis and they can’t understand the destinations anymore.

What’s next?

I expect few changes soon, or at least must happen. The first thing is, I expect the minibus owners will be boycotted the decisions. So it is interesting to see how the government will handle the situation. It is true that the transportation in Ethiopia is just a mess – big crazy mess. This area should be addressed soon, otherwise everyone is officially denied from moving from one place to the other.

The minibuses working hours need to be revised. So far it is not allowed for them to work (or as a customary) after 10:00p.m in the evening. I have no idea what is the problem behind this, but the minibuses should be on the road in the night too. It helps people work in the night and motivates many things to be available 24/7.


  1. sirarmany · May 17, 2011

    All this with out the perspective of larger crowd or people who use the taxi most of the time. sometimes how bad decsions are made just from the point of one problem

  2. laljoe · May 17, 2011

    Different stakeholders in the issue were not part of this decision to begin with. It seems nowadays any government office can make a big decision affecting the general public without consulting anyone or feeling responsible. The government is increasingly agitating the public and it seems no official seems to care. Where will this lead to? The people’s psyche will tell.

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