If you are a middle class Ethiopian citizen, you are well familiar with the Minibus taxis. They’re blue on the bottom, white on top, serve 12 people at a time legally (up to 20 illegally), and has a redat or helper, who always has half of his body out of the window yelling, most commonly, “Bole, Bole”!
I, personally, have a special interest on these taxis, as you might have realized by now, writing all sorts of articles about them. They are my main means of transportation especially in the mornings (7:30-8:30am) and at the end of the day (5-5:30pm). Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows that taxis are almost always unavailable during these hours. When people need them the most, they decide to cut up the distance they go (making us pay double sometimes) or they just decide that they’re not going the path we want to go.
The Approved Solution
As a solution, a new law or method was adopted. Every taxi is going to have a Tapella, a sign on the roof of the taxi that tells everyone where it’s going.
Pro’s To Tapella
- They can’t say that they’re not going to for example, Bole. Wherever the tapella says the taxi’s going, he is forced to go.
- They can’t just cut the distance short. If the tapella says it’s going the full distance, he’s forced to go.
Con’s To Tapella
- Sometimes, too many taxis are assigned to a certain route. For example, sometime this week, I was waiting for a Bole taxi (it was the middle of the day) but there were none. At the same time, there were apparently 120 kazanchis taxis lined up for their turn. It was said that, if necessary, taxis would be given temporary tapellas. In this case, a few of these kazanchis taxis should have been assigned to Bole, but they didn’t.
- Taxis are still unavailable during the above rush hours (morning and evenings). Who knows where they’d be chillin at that time…
Another Possible Solution
I, again personally, don’t think that the problem lies in the taxi. I know, they’re selfish and can be unbearable. But think about it.
Every government and private businesses start their work hours at 8-8:30am and end at 5-5:30pm where everyone works 8 hours (1 hour for lunch). During lunch, almost everywhere is closed. The same goes to schools which also start at that time, but the end time is different. I was talking to a UN employee from New York who gave me a brilliant idea, and it goes like this.
- Ethiopia’s work hours should be flexible.
Example: Let’s assume that every business in Ethiopia started work at 8am and ended at 6pm.
- It would give the business an extra hour or so to work.
- Employees would have a choice of work hours.
- 8am-4pm—get to work early in the morning, then leave early; probably for those who live far away or in a bad neighborhood.
- 10am-6pm—for the ones who are not morning people.
- Basically, the groups would work the same number of hours, the business would have more work hours, and the employees wouldn’t be as grumpy in the morning or as eager to leave in the evening because they both have the less hours than usual and the time is accommodated to their preferences.
- Also, if these two groups can alternate for lunch, the businesses wouldn’t be closed.
This, at the end of the day, would have a great effect on the availability of taxis. If 100 people waited for the Bole taxi at 8:30 before, now, only 50 would wait for it at 8am and the others at 10 am, making the people spread out evenly throughout the rush hour.