Sunday, January 27, 2008

Infrastructure

Work: the Internet has been mostly poor to non-existent the past two weeks. Just heard there was a Univ server problem that was just fixed along with the perennial problems of the only Internet service provider for the country, ETC. Even though I am trying to acclerate some work projects, the absence of the Internet during most of the work day makes it tough to accomplish even small tasks or the training I was trying to do. I have heard things will improve soon.

Other: At home, there is usually No Electricity, No Water, Too Much of Water (as in Leaks), and just recently, water not draining from the bathroom! The previous apt. dweller did not pay his electric bill, so twice my electricity has been cut off. The Univ is supposed to be taking care of this prior problem, but so far they have not. In most bathrooms here, water is expected to splash or pour out from the shower (there may not be a shower stall or tub) onto the tile floor and into the drain. The water in the bathroom was backing up and had to take care care of it. Last Sat, there was no water at home for most of the day. It arrived around 8:30am on Sun and to celebrate, two neighbors and I went to have juice at a nearby restaurant.

Just like everywhere else, gasoline prices have gone up. So now the taxi ride to work on the communal minibus is EB 1.80 and 70 centimes for the shorter ride. I am not sure how the local people survive since their salaries have not increased.

Ethiopia is growing by leaps and bounds. The amount of new construction and works in progress is astounding in this capital city. I have never seen a place like this with so much highrise scaffolding. From the outside, some of these buildings do not look like they have adequate foundations or support for the upper floors. I hear they do have such building codes like in other countries. Many of these buildings have not been well thought out. The major road where I live is Bole and there are numerous high rise buildings built without parking areas. It is a madhouse when people look for any little space to park while others circle or simple wait for a space. Cars drive all over the sidewalks if there are sidewalks at all. Inside, handrailings seem to be a luxury item and are either minimal or non-existent. Even new buildings have chips or broken steps, cracks in the floors or walls.

There is constant road construction all over Addis Ababa as well as in the other towns I recently visited in the north. The Chinese are building most of these roads. The dust and exhaust fumes from these machines penetrate the air, sometimes for kilometers on end.

There haven been reports in the papers that soon, a trolley system will start serving Addis to supplement the public transportation system. They have some of the trolleys, but the electric lines still have to be built! Also, there is a big shortage of buses for public and private transportation. The Chinese have just delivered numerous buses to Djibuti and they are being driven to Ethiopia.

Mobile phones have become popular the past 3 years or so here. It is time consuming to get a land line and the wait is usually 7-8 years. Mobile phones can be acquired by rent or purchase by showing your passport number or local ID card number in just a few minutes. Then, the actual phone serviced is bought with a phone card for EB 25, 50 or 100. At most work places, staff usually rely on their personal mobile phones and don't bother with the office land lines as they are usually broken anyway.

Work email addresses do exist but due to the poor condition of the Internet Service (or No Service) Provider, most people do not use them. Instead, they rely on the free Hotmail or Yahoo accounts. Of course, the Int. is cen$ord here and same for the print media.

7 comments:

John McCullough said...

Marie: Sounds like an uphill swim all the way. I wish our Sate Department would spend the money on infrastructure rather than the limitless wars we seem to sponsor. Hope you are surviving and enjoying a few things.

Election Day today! Hope is in the air!!!

More another time.

John McC.

John McCullough said...

Marie: Sounds like an uphill swim all the way. I wish our Sate Department would spend the money on infrastructure rather than the limitless wars we seem to sponsor. Hope you are surviving and enjoying a few things.

Election Day today! Hope is in the air!!!

More another time.

John McC.

Mary said...

I subscribe to your feeds using iGoogle, and I'm really enjoying reading about Ethopia and your adventures.

Mary R.

Moira said...

Hi Marie! Love your blog. Ethiopa sounds like so much of the rest of the "two-thirds world": fascinating wildlife and culture, poor plumbing.

I imagine you are now in that last frantic dash toward your departure date. Bon voyage, and see you in New Haven in April!

Linda said...

Marie
I'm looking forward to many chats over tea. Pretty much the same here, and the news you send is so different. Have a safe trip home!
Linda

Linda said...

Marie
We live in such a sheltered world in the US. I cannot imagine how other nationalities function with these high costs that you outline. You are truly and adventurer! I'm looking forward to lots of chats and tea when you return. Linda

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