Photo Essay - April 20, 2003 - MediaETHIOPIA

The Addis Ababa Ring Road - Revisited

Just a weekend ago, our photo team decided to take a late-afternoon drive on the new Ring Road from Bole all the way to Megenagna (Shola area). It was only a few weeks ago that this segment was completed. So, as we drove through Bole, past the new big St. Michael church, Bole Medhane Alem, the vast empty space Mengistu once boasted that he will build 'biyans biyans 100 shih sew liyiz yemichil' stadium, Atlas Hotel, Unity College and to the heart of Megenagna, we felt that this new addition to our city did not let us down. 

The coming phase will take the ring road from Megenagna through Shola, the English Embassy, the Russian Embassy, Qebena and eventually connect it to General Wingate area. Just to see where the road will be heading to eventually, we continued driving through the Shola road all the way to Qebena. These days being war days and all in the Middle East, a member of our team asked why the British embassy has acquired so much land in Addis Ababa which stretches all the way from the road side to the foot of the mountains which form the Eastern edges of the Intotto mountains. 'These former colonizers and modern-day invaders should not be allowed to occupy such a vast part of our city' was one of the comments that we heard from another member. Actually, the way we saw it, as the ring road inches closer to these areas that had stayed  away from the public eye for so long, questions of this sort will emerge. The Russian embassy seems to occupy a huge land also; but for reasons we did not discuss amongst ourselves, we saw no concern for that. 

Good words were reserved for the Chinese too. Almost everyone in the city is amazed how this massive project is finally bringing new hope and face to our beloved city of Addis Ababa. We think the Chinese engineers and contractors deserve thanks as all previous attempts by Canadians and Middle East contractors had faded away before a single bucket of concrete was poured. The Chinese are determined to get this work done and the speed of their success shows that.

We were also very much surprised to see how much change in property value this road is bringing to areas where it passes through. Even Mekanisa and Repi, places where once we Addis Ababans felt were as far away as Assela and Goba are now hot real-estate. Atlas Hotel which had suffered for the past 2 years from the dust and noise of construction now is feeling that it is the Sheraton of East Addis Ababa.  'Fix the elevators first', is our advice for the Atlas people.

We concluded a wonderful afternoon of a re-discovery of our city with a dinner at one of the once hidden restaurants of North Bole which are now accessible right from the ring road. As we dined on wood-grilled Arba Minch assa (this being fasting season), we talked of how best the ring road could be used. For example, the 50 Km/h speed limit should be replaced by 50 meters/ hour as most of the users of the road are now pedestrians and not cars! Also, Haile G/Selassie's next 'Great Run' should be on the ring road itself. How about Addis Ababa Marathon on the 42 kms stretch of the ring road. Start at Mekannisa and end in G/Wingate! 

Enjoy these scenes where even donkeys from Legedadi are now using the ring road as a short-cut to go to Nifas Silk.  


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