22 mazoria is normally lined with boutiques, cosmetic shops, cafes and restaurants but as of the past two days it has become a sight of one huge mess. Shops, which were the only livelihood for most of the people who owned them were demolished…All in the name of the new railway line and the roundabout.
Addis Ababa has in recent years become a site for road and building structure development. Over the past year major roads have been closed down and that has become a headache for all of us who have to go to work or school in the morning and come home in the evening. Taxi fare is an all time high and traffic at peak hours is hopeless but the Bole road will open in time for AU’s 50th anniversary summit at the end of this month and it’s looking pretty good so no complaints there.
One of the new infrastructures under development is the Addis Ababa Light Railway line. Addis has never had rail tracks for in city use so things are being done from scratch. This means certain things have to be cleared out of the way in order for the line to be constructed. By certain things, we mean people’s homes, shops or other road side establishments.
There have been many victims of Addis’s development projects but this time around it is the business community at 22 Mazoria( commonly known as ‘Haya Hulet’).
The corner of 22 Mazoria looks like a war zone. Shops are torn apart and Cafés and restaurants are dismantled. People’s properties are lying everywhere and it is just one giant mess. But this is only the beginning. Shops further down the road are selling their items on sale because they know they are going to be next.
We had the opportunity to interview a family who’ve already lost their shop and are on the verge of losing their only home. They had done all they could to keep their property, which they say they own legally, but are now left hopeless because no authority is willing to help them.
About a month ago the family had been told to move back about two meters in to their shop. They did as they were told and had even re-constructed the pathway at their own cost. A few days ago, however, they were ordered to move back thirty-two meters once again. But this time it’s not just a part of the shop they will lose but the home that three generations of the family live in. They have nowhere to go and they haven’t even been compensated for the damage or relocated. All they have is an order from government offices to take their properties and leave the premises in three days.
This might be the story of one family but with the way things have been going in the city it’s highly likely that many more peole will relate.
We understand that unpleasant measures have to be taken and that there will be victims but how far is too far? How many people would have to be left stranded in order for the development goals to be met? Isn’t our well being part of the plan?
Our enthusiasm over building a new Ethiopia is getting in the way of securing the well being of our own people so maybe we need to pause for a second and re think the action plan our strategy. Ethiopia’s development being the end result we’re all hoping for, some of the actions taken towards reaching that goal sometimes feels un-Humanitarian.
The Ethiopian renaissance is one we’re all looking forward to. We long to see the days when we have reliable infrastructure, the day when every Ethiopian has a roof over his head, doesn’t go to bed hungry, when we don’t have to worry about the continuous supply of water or uninterrupted electricity and the day when we’re lending than borrowing. But what is the price to pay for our better tomorrow?
We’re not worried about how long it’s going to take. We don’t expect to wake up one day to find Ethiopia turned into a developed country. We’re just not sure how the development process is going to affect our lives in general or who we’re going to turn to when we’re being mistreated in the name of Ethiopian Renaissance.
May 10, 2013