Disgruntled tenants of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal furiously criticized the management of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) for rent-seeking and lack of transparency.
With the view of improving good governance at the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise the management of the enterprise and the Ministry of Transport organized a consultative meeting with stakeholders on April 12 at EAE’s conference hall in Addis Ababa. The meeting was chaired by the state minister of the Ministry of Transport, Desalegn Ambaw. Tewodros Dawit, CEO of the enterprise, co-chaired the meeting. Wondim Teklu, communication affairs head with EAE, presented a nine-month performance report of the enterprise. Wondim said that the enterprise should be able to satisfy passengers. “We should be able to make passengers happy,” he told participants.
Tenants (shop, café and restaurant owners) of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal, aircraft fuel suppliers and airlines participated in the meeting. Desalegn said that the main objective of the meeting was to deliberate on the challenges facing customers and resolve the problems. Desalegn explained that Ethiopian Airlines was growing fast and to cope up with the national flag carrier the enterprise was building new airports and expanding the existing airports. The EAE envisioned itself with becoming one of the leading airport service providers in Africa. The enterprise plans to make Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Africa’s leading hub by 2020. Desalegn said this could be realized by enhancing the service delivery and by closely working with stakeholders. He invited all participants to candidly express their discontents
Tenants of the Addis Bole International Airport bluntly criticized the management for failing to manage tenders in a transparent manner. Some of the participants said that the bidding procedures for business outlets were vague. “The bidding procedures lack transparency. We do not know how the winners qualify. There is rent-seeking. We should evaluate ourselves,” the tenants said.
The tenants said that some renowned business personalities own five and six shops and restaurants at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. “They have dominated the business. How did that happen?” they inquired.
The tenants also complained that the floor prices set by the enterprise for spaces are exorbitant. “Rent is now so expensive that we are forced to run our business at a loss,” they lamented. They also said that officials of the enterprise do not provide them with satisfactory explanations to their complaints.
Aircraft fuel suppliers have also presented their complaints. The fuel suppliers said that the enterprise is not responsive. According to them, there are safety concerns. “The imperial regime collapsed because it failed to address the public anger. The Derg was toppled because it tried to silence the public demands by bullets. Now once gain Ethiopians are demanding their rights and God knows what would happen to you,” a representative of a jet fuel supply company said.
A representative of a private airline complained that EAE does not handle requests promptly. She said that the enterprise lacks efficiency. “It has been fifteen years since we asked for a plot of land to build a maintenance hangar. We won the bid for a plot of land over a year ago. But we did not yet get the green light to commence construction,” she said.
A private airline manager said that the main problem of EAE is that it is engaged in dealing with sideline businesses. “The main task of the enterprise should be airport operation— dealing with aircraft movement and ensuring a smooth flow of passenger traffic. It should also cooperate with fuel suppliers, customs and immigration. But now the enterprise seems to be busy with airport business (or sideline businesses) like dealing with tenders, space renting and so forth. It can outsource this service. Executives of the enterprise are busy handling tenders and overseeing airport construction projects. They do not have time to manage the day-to-day operations of the airport which was supposed to be their main duty,” the manager said.
Deslaegn said that it was difficult to address every question raised during the meeting. However, he said the points were taken into account. “The forum was only the beginning. Similar meetings will be organized.” Tewodros said that the enterprise would closely work with stakeholders to mitigate the problems.
One of the participants of the meeting, who requested anonymity, told The Reporter that a senior executive of the enterprise tainted with rent- seeking and incompetency was removed from his post. However, he said he was recently re-instated to his office for an undisclosed reason. “How can good governance be enforced while we witness this kind of mal- administration?” he asked.
Another participant of the meeting told The Reporter that the intent of the meeting should not be putting the blame on one or two officials and removing them with the objective of silencing public discontent. “We should be able talk about the system. Pointing a figure on one or two individuals would not bring about a fundamental change that we are seeking,” he said.
Wondim Teklu declined to comment on the details of the meeting saying that the enterprise would soon organize a press conference on good governance.