Addis Ababa. New year. | by Christian Mantuano

37 images Created 13 Jan 2015

Today Addis Ababa is a work in progress. An actual urban metamorphosis affects the central districts, that are gradually dismembered in order to make way for new constructions and paved roads. Huge skeletons of future buildings silhouette against the sky and the sound of bulldozers spreads into the dusty streets. A significant stage of the plan to turn Ethiopia into an industrialized country, introduced by former Prime Minister Meles Zinawe, will be achieved by the end of January 2015. The symbol of this transformation is the construction of the light metro: two rail lines running through the city, for a total of 48 km, crossing in Meskal Square, the city center of Addis. It is a modern project of fast and sustainable transport. Many sections of the line run on overpasses. The risk is to split the city into two, to the point that a specific committee for bridges and underpasses has been established.The government declared to be confident and satisfied with the progress of the work, despite some side effects have already been noted. The demolition of the old slums, aimed at creating space for new buildings, involves the relocation of tens of thousands of people. Those who do not have a valid cadastral permit will not have access to the lists for the new housing projects built by the government. Thus, in recent months, thousands found themselves living on the street or forced to move to the suburbs, isolated and poorly connected to the city center. Another aspect of the question concerns the rights of workers. Although the State has access to substantial fundings from the UK, USA, India and China and the intense building activity has increased the employment level, the average salary of a worker is not even enough for a roof and a meal a day. The safety conditions of construction sites remain extremely precarious. The city is experiencing a radical change that very quickly transforms the places as well as people's habits.
Appealing to the "ancient art of self -arranging", the citizens of Addis find new ways of living the urban space. They live for the day, taking advantage of the resources available and occupying the spaces with temporary solutions. They face their needs with imagination and willpower; they arm themselves with a good dose of patience whenever conditions require starting over. That is the same patience that allows those who still lives in the slum to calmly wait the time of the move. Moreover, even the middle-class families who have the opportunity to support themselves through their work, face a daily series of hardships, from power cuts to the poor roads. The first interest of the government, said President Mulatu Teshome, is to provide three meals a day and a house to every Ethiopian citizen. The hope is that this program will be achieved shortly but in the meantime a silent minority of the population is still in search of his place in this great plan of modernization of the country.
text Antonio Orria
photo Christian Mantuano
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