Amid request for budget subsidy and financial struggles looming over the enterprise, the Addis Ababa Light Railway Transit (AA-LRT) further encountered more problems due to employee strikes which stalled the operation for five hours on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
It was disclosed that the labor strike came after employees complained over issues related to better wages and work benefits as well as on-job safety concerns.
After the strike, which lasted till 10:40 in the morning, concluded, the company started rendering its services with the aid of Chinese workers.
On the next day, no strikes were reported, according to Dereje Tefera, Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) Communication Head.
Dereje told The Reporter that on Thursday morning, they started the operation at 6:00 AM with 11 trains for the Ayat-Tor-Hailoch route while eight trains were dispatched for Kality-St. George route.
Reports also indicate that Ethiopian trainmasters are still in talks with the Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, Berhanu Besha (PhD, Eng.).
The General Manger of AA-LRT, Muluken Assefa, confirmed to The Reporter that the concerns of the unhappy employees are legitimate concerns and the enterprise is working to address their demands.
He, however, explained that the company is not yet self-sufficient or in the right shape in-terms of financial capacity and structure since it is a new sector to the country.
However, the service is struggling to cover its operational as well as administration costs.
Due to these challenges, the company requested the Addis Ababa City Administration close to 1.5 billion birr subsidy.
According to the General Manager, the company will encounter even serious challenges on its daily operation unless the city administration approve and releases the states subsidy in a short time.
The Addis Ababa LRT covers a total of 34 kilometers and was built for 475 million dollars obtained from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China. The Ethiopian government provided 15 percent equity. There were several other external Chinese stakeholders: the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group were the contracting party for construction, while the metro will be run until 2020 by the Shenzhen Metro Group and the China Railway Engineering Corporation.
The railway service began operation on September 20, 2018 and transports an estimated 15,000 people per hour per direction.