PROPOSALS are being developed for a 100 km rapid transit link between Addis Abeba and Nazareth to relieve transport problems in the Ethiopian capital. Public transport patronage has increased by 43% since 1986, with local buses now handling more than 600000 passengers a day.

Although described as light rail, the initial route would be an electrified interurban parallelling the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway main line between Addis Abeba and Nazareth. Services would run every 10min, serving 15 intermediate stations including Meskel Flower, Gottera, Ring Road, Kaliti, Akake, Dukem, Debre Ziet and Mojo. As a second phase, this would be augmented by a feeder trolleybus route serving the industrial area south of the capital. Hydro-electric power for both routes would be supplied by the Ethiopian Electric & Power Authority.

Project Director Dr Getachew Betru of GBA Consultancy says the line would be built by a public-private partnership, taking two years to complete. The project has been endorsed by the government, and Betru is hopeful of raising finance from international donors. With patronage of 60000 passengers a day and a load factor of 65%, Betru believes the line could pay back its private-sector investment within five years.