Ethiopia: Addis to Build 40 Intersections

Addis Ababa

The city's road traffic management agency is planning to build 40 intersections in the capital with the main aim of easing the city's traffic flow.

To hire a consultant to study, design and supervise the construction of the intersections, the Addis Abeba City Road Traffic Management Agency floated a tender this month.

The winning company is expected to conduct traffic flow surveys and analysis, prepare the preliminary and final designs, locate where to build the intersections, estimate the cost of the design and construction phases, prepare bid documents and supervise the project during implementation.

In addition to identifying intersections that require upgrading, the consultancy firm will study the existing pavement and drainage systems within a 100-metre radius of the proposed area.

With the main aim of ensuring and maximising road safety, the Agency implemented a couple of interventions last year. Upgrading 31 road intersections and deploying signage and traffic lights are among them. Last year's project cost 220 million Br.

A separate six-year project costing 600 million Br and financed by the World Bank was launched last March by the City Road & Transport Bureau. The project will design an Intelligent Transport System Master Plan and make improvements to five corridors, 132 road junctions, 22 existing signalised locations and 27 intersections.

In the recently ended fiscal year, 10 roundabouts were converted to intersections with traffic lights. For the current fiscal year, the Agency is planning to add traffic lights to seven roundabouts, which it will also convert to intersections.

"After the interventions, traffic flow has improved and accidents have been reduced," said Tamene Belle, communications director at the Agency.

Road safety is a major challenge in the country. More than 64 people per 10,000 die annually from vehicle accidents, making Ethiopia the eighth-worst country in Africa. Two years ago, 456 deaths were recorded in the capital due to traffic accidents.

The city hosts about 60pc of the total vehicles in the country with 585,000. About 1,127 Anbessa, Sheger and Public Service buses, 100 Sheger student buses, 423 Higher midi-buses and 14,213 minibus taxis operate in the city along with 120,000 trucks.

A recent study conducted by an Indian firm shows that the roads in the city, which only have 45 traffic lights, host 4.2 million trips a day. The city's road network coverage reached 22pc last fiscal year.

More than 20,000 additional vehicles join the roads every year, fueling the traffic congestion in the city, according to data from the Agency.

Fekadu Gurmessa (PhD), an expert on transport geography and a lecturer at Addis Abeba University, argues that the high number vehicles are beyond the capacity of the roads and are the main cause of congestion.

"Beyond building the new road infrastructure, the Agency should employ a better and well-organised traffic management system," said Fekadu.

Repetitive design problems at intersections have inconvenienced the flow of traffic, such as changing a square to a road or vice versa, according to him.

"These inconsistencies would be rectified by strengthening institutional capacity," Fekadu said.

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