Day 13: Cars, Crossings & Chaos

The most dangerous thing in Addis? Driving in a car! Seriously, the traffic in Addis Ababa is just CRAZY… The streets are packed with cars, mini-buses, trucks, donkeys, bikes, people – and there seems to be only one rule: there are no rules!

Traffic lights? Waste of Energy! Pedestrians? Vehicles always come first! Your side of the road is blocked? Well, driving on the left side of the street is just so much more fun… Addis Ababa’s transportation system really does prove Darwin right: it’s the survival of the fittest. Unfortunately “the fittest” in this context very often means the biggest car.

There are mainly three transportation options in the city – none of them involves a train or subway as there are hardly any rails. Instead 99% of the traffic takes place on the streets, choosing one of the following possibilities:

1) Cars: Lucky ones, who have one! Cars are extremely expensive to buy in Ethiopia and very costly to maintain (taxes every year). Nevertheless, I haven’t seen one car without bruises – even a broken front window is not a real reason to bring your car to a garage. But be careful: big cars beat small cars! Always!

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Chasing Cars

2) Taxis: Taxis in Addis Ababa are recognizable due to their blue and white outside. They are also recognizable because they are most certainly in a very bad shape with no lights, seatbelts or even doors. Bargaining with taxi drivers is always so much fun: “300 birr for the way back?! We came here for 50 birr!! With you!! Well, I DO REMEMBER!”

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Make sure it has four doors

3) Local buses: Never. Use. Them. EVER.

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People queuing to squeeze into the local bus

Oh, and just if you were wondering about the condition of the roads, here comes a very descriptive quote from JP today: “That’s not a road hole. That’s a swimming pool.” 😀

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