Priorities not Prioritized in the age of Zoom

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By- በቀቀኑ ካዓብ

Recently the Administration of Addis Ababa announced that it spemt millions in the renovation of the city hall. It is infact a good move that they renovated the Addis Ababa City Hall, commonly called as መዘጋጃ ቤት! I am not against it, a vibrant working environment and a welcoming building for both service providers and clients is indeed helpful in boosting workers morale and helps with increasing productivity and also customer satisfaction. My concern is the city hall was renovated with money collected off the cities residents hard earned income. And as this is the norm, priority shall be given to the cities residents needs. I have tried to highlight three major grave concerns we all face below that should have been prioritized before spending millions on decorations :

1) Water has become a scarcity in the capital city. City residents are hanging on a thread at this moment . Some are cut off for weeks ranging to even a month. Bird’s eye view from aircrafts sprawls in display a meshwork of white water tankers i.e. “Roto’s” on almost every rooftop, even with that, how is an average Ethiopian family supposed to sustain for 2 weeks on one refill. Various assortment of water storage units pack most of our spare kitchen, bathroom, outdoor and storage room spaces. A 20 liter water container commonly referred to as ,”Jerican”, has risen to cost 30+ ETB from 5 ETB due to its increased demand. In the outskirts of the city, water delivery with donkey’s using this “Jerican’s” has become a booming business. Isuzus with a half a dozen water containers running around on the city residential areas is a common sight now. Even when water comes it doesn’t even stay for hours and it’s stream becomes so feeble with everyone at that area opening their respective taps all at once to fill up their containers for the coming days. Officially announced schedule isn’t practiced by the authorities which prompts most residents to have someone who stays at their homes to have a regular check up on their taps. Due to the low power, most residents pay thousands in additional costs for water pumps to push it upstream to their “ሮቶs” on their rooftops : A common practice in houses with stories above two. Real state apartment complexes have been totally cut off from the cities water supply system after being ordered to dig for underground water for usage, this is utterly gobsmacking as to how the City Adminstration expects an already built and functional apartment complex inside a buzzing residential area to search and look for underground water, dig for it and layout pipelines. Bottled water for drinking is a staple inside everyone’s house. At this point, u can’t blame a fellow traveller on a taxi for having a malodorous armpit.

2) Transportation is a nightmare of Addis Ababa’s residents. Morning’s after 6 AM and Evening’s after 5:30 PM display people waiting for transportation in long lines ; lines where if ur at the back you can’t see the front of it. To arrive on time at 8:30 AM at one’s work place, one has to wake up hours earlier at 5 PM to pack his lunch, get dressed up and make breakfast to leave before the hour hand hits 6 PM ; if one has kids the task takes a whole new level of difficulty. Leaving at 5:30 PM, one reaches his home late at night being at risk for the rampant mugging in town. Average working class family has an almost non-existent family time with their kids during working days because after parents arrive late and complete their housework, it is usually too late even for bedtime. The traffic jam makes anyone want to scream out loud mid-road. Under construction roads in aims of alleviating traffic jams have been on a protracted course as every government project is and have worsened the situation whereever they have been started. Cheap material usage, corruption, inadequate rain water sewage disposal system’s plus careless heavy truck chauffeur’s have left most of the cities roads with multiple potholes every few meters even on highways which in its own way confounds traffic jams in an already struggling system. Shortsighted planning of the cities road is a major factor too. Major roads that lead out of the city to packed residential complexes and gigantic condominium suburbs are narrow with 4 or 6 laned ways. Wider roads seem to be a phenomenon only on the outskirts while being a rarity seen around Piassa, Arada and Churchill roads only while being absolutely essential in the centers of the city. The number of transportation providers to the cities residents is out of proportion. They still can’t cope up with the population’s demand. Emmigrant to Immigrant ratio is flabbergasting to see, the city’s inhabitant number is sky rocketing as almost every major opportunity is located in Addis Ababa. All this is multiplying the problem exponentially.


3) Inflation, that left our cities population squirming in an unwilling minimalistic lifestyle while sustaining previously on the minimal basic needs of life he/she had at

hand. 75 grams of bread costs 5 ETB. A daily manual labourer, just so he can afford to eat 150 grams of plain bread 3 times per day has to pay almost one fourth of his daily wage. The average salary of a government worker can’t afford to buy a quintal of Teff, the staple crop of Ethiopians. Thin translucent “Injera” that isn’t enough for a supper costs 10 ETB. A litre of oil costs at 130+ ETB. Government subsidized sugar and saturated fat vegetable oil(Which is bad for health by the way) is available at cooperative union vendors; long lines of people are commonly seen when news of an irregularly scheduled new stock of supplies arrival is heard by the villagers nearby. Vegetables are getting expensive by day. Fruits have become an expensive treat to Addis residents as Caviars and Oysters are to Europeans. Meat is priced per kilo at an excess of 600+. Eventhough the city adminstration funds meat supply through its government subsidized Cooperative Unions, it is common knowledge that the meat they offer has such a poor quality. Housing regulations the city recently implemented, though not adequate, to curb increasing prices shall be reciprocated to other essential needs of the people.

The administration is there to serve the people. So as they say, “Serve the People’s Need!”

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