The rise of taxi-hailing companies in Addis Abeba over the past six years has been a double-edged sword. While these services have transformed urban transport and provided much-needed job opportunities, the rapid growth has outpaced government regulation and safety measures. The City Transport Bureau registered nine new companies this year, bringing the total to 42, but drivers and passengers alike have faced life-threatening safety issues. Feres Transport, a late entrant into the market, faced a backlash when a musician alleged sexual assault by one of the drivers signed up to its popular app, uncovering the company's "inadequate" response to such incidents. CEO Abebe Mulu defended the company's efforts to address complaints, ranging from customer service issues to serious safety concerns, claiming that potential threats remain "insignificant" with increased trips.

Soaring fuel costs and the burden of bank loans have added to drivers' woes, making personal vigilance crucial for safety. The industry's growth has also benefited the government, with soaring revenues generated from income taxes vehicle owners pay. The economic impact of the taxi-hailing industry is substantial, with drivers generating over 7.45 billion Br in revenues last year. Despite the industry's expansion, there are tax collection and regulation gaps.

Officials at the City Transport Bureau are working on revising an outdated directive to regulate taxi-hailing companies better and improve safety. Urban transport experts urge mandatory GPS and camera installations in vehicles and investing in night-operating public buses to address affordability and safety concerns. As the industry grows, striking a balance between providing safe, affordable transportation and ensuring adequate regulation remains a pressing issue for drivers and commuters.

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PUBLISHED ON Jun 08,2024 [ VOL 25 , NO 1258]

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