A Week without Our Three-wheeled Allies

Mar 18 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )

A comedian made a joke about how citizens' wishes are not granted but rather what government thinks is our need. Apparently, ours believes we need to get in better shape.

The cost of teff has risen to over 9,000 Br so we could practice intermittent fasting and the week-long restriction on the movements of three-wheeled vehicles so we would walk an extra mile or two; carrying a heavy load is a bonus to building our muscles. While at it, we could practice being homeless as rent has hit the roof not to mention the houses being demolished.

Car owners might not feel the burden of not having three-wheeled rickshaws, commonly called Bajajs. But those of us who live in condominiums and on the outskirts of the city were significantly impacted.

In my residence, bajaj is commonly used as a mode of transport. There are many older people who use it to get around. Parents use it to drop their kids off at nearby schools in case they miss the school bus or an after tutorial classes as some school buses do not give service other than regular school hours. Carrying groceries from nearby stores has been made easier as opposed to getting a ride for a ridiculously short distance.

I happen to take a bajaj ride every day to go to work or else I would be spending 15-30 minutes on the road before reaching the taxi stop giving me another reason to get to work late.

Bajaj drivers are always ready to go, waiting for their turn. Some taxi drivers do not want to go anywhere just opt to sit and chew khat in the car because the weather is too hot. I understand it is a demanding job and a break is much needed but I had never been turned down by a bajaj driver unless taken by another customer.

There was a time I had to go to a funeral around the Akaki area while I was seven months pregnant. My friends and I had to take a bajaj to get into the condominiums in search of our friend’s house. It would have been a long walk had it not been for the bajaj.

It is a livelihood for thousands. The number of youth who saved up enough money or got loans from institutions to buy bajaj and provide is countless. Young men who are bajaj drivers are breadwinners, whose spouses, and families worked in foreign countries and bought it for them to have ownership when they return home. Many drivers change their lives through it by saving up and getting into equb, a traditional means of saving in Ethiopia.

As much as the three-wheelers annoyingly get in the way troubling car owners often, a higher population is dependent on public transport.

Aesthetics is also a laughable argument in a country where people are economically challenged without food and basic need security. The breathtaking projects in the city like the science and art museum, parks and library are most appealing to the eye. However, they do not mean much to someone on an empty stomach.

For me, a country is as good as its citizens. There is nothing beautiful when citizens are struggling to make ends meet.

I understand that government is far from chocolate or pizza that can please everyone but the least it can do is protect its citizens and take off burdens.

So I say hats off for bringing back our three-wheeled friends and making it easier for people to move around!

PUBLISHED ON Mar 18,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1194]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.

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