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‘For Now, It’s Fine’

March 14 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

A few days ago, travelling on the long road that links Bole Michael to Bole Bulbula, we came across a traffic pile up. The accident was at a curve in the new road that has not been paved yet.

As we passed that section and began our descent into Zetena-Sost, Mekelaklya and Mariam Mazoria, parts of the new suburban enclave, we noticed the sheer magnitude of urbanisation and construction in the soon-to-be-bustling neighbourhood. There are mixed-use buildings, apartments, and numerous villas being constructed for sale.

The neighbourhood has just started growing, and its population will continue to increase. To catch up to the demand, there is currently a three-lane carriageway under construction that is expected to be the area's main infrastructure artery in and out of the neighbourhood. In Addis Abeba, where neighbourhoods explode with population, this seems a painfully inadequate means of addressing the demand.

The land on either side of the road was vacant until recently, but now every few metres new settlements, mostly shops, are popping up. At the rate that shops on either side of the road are growing, all of the land on both sides of the road will soon be in use. It leaves no room for expansion of the road in the very probable circumstance that there will be a need for it.

It is hard not to wonder how we as a nation plan and implement policies and strategies, small or big.

My question is, why must we always have an "it's good enough for now" mentality. Why is it that highly-probable, near-future changes are rarely taken into consideration?

The case of the carriageway is not an isolated incident. Take, for instance, how road drainage systems keep overflowing during the rainy season. We have all of the data to design, construct and maintain road drainage systems not to fail but the contractors who build many of Addis Abeba’s roads have not figured that out.

Take also the shortage of water in the city that is caused by a poor distribution system. This is the case even for areas where pipes were fitted a short time ago.

Perhaps the starkest example of poor planning is the roads, sidewalks and roundabouts that are built and then quickly upended when telephone or water lines need to be installed. Oftentimes, new road projects are themselves the cause of traffic congestion.

Should we not be building a city and country that the next generation will not have to worry about? Does everything we build now have to be reconstructed every other decade? Can we not leave something long-lasting?

Every time I travel in and out of my neighbourhood, I wonder what means the next generation will find to address the problems we manufacture today. It is quite astounding that we were able to build long-lasting infrastructure in the past but rarely succeed at this task today despite the knowledge and resources that we have at our disposal.

Indifference and idleness seems to exist in every profession in Ethiopia and is not specific to the construction industry. It is just that it is here that we see its most glaring effects. Its problems harm our daily lives.

My former neighbour used to buy the cheapest replacement breakers for their house’s fuse box at a cost of 150 Br. But they would break every week. This was just to save 50 Br.

It is almost as though we intentionally carry out tasks in a half-baked manner just to have something to do in the coming week or month.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 14,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1037]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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