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Urban Transportation: The Case of Asmara

By Simon Woldemichael

Asmara has a functional, accessible, responsive and safe public transportation system. The huge investment in public transport and infrastructure such as roads has made people’s lives easier. The government is importing buses to meet the increasing demand of travelers.

Transport plays a crucial role in urban development by making it easy for people to have access to schools, workplaces, health care facilities, markets, recreational places, and other essential service providers. Enhanced mobility for all is one of the most important preconditions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Goal 11 of the SDGs aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Located at 115 KM from the port city of Massawa, Asmara is the country’s historic center of administration and business, and it has a modest transport system that is efficient, safe and affordable. In addition to the city buses, there are around one thousand taxis operating in Asmara and give people an alternative means of transport. Asmara has secure urban transportation which, unlike big cities in the world, is not associated with pollution, congestion, environmental degradation and lack of access for the urban poor.

Public transport is as important as healthcare and education because it makes goods, services and opportunities, which are key to people’s well-being, accessible. Asmara’s public transport ensures people’s ability to access the opportunities offered by the city, and it exerts the least financial pressure on users.

The quality of transportation in urban areas is vital to the lives of the people. It is one of the main factors that determine whether a city is enjoyable and a healthy place to live in. Today cities are increasingly overwhelmed by the population, with the number of people migrating from rural to urban areas rising. If cities continue to grow at this rate, it will become increasingly difficult to make them function without an effective transportation system. Urban dwellers need transportation to travel to work, to school, to engage in social activities and so on. Transportation contributes to the quality of life and personal wellbeing by enabling individuals to access health care, education, and employment which ultimately lead to greater productivity and economic growth.

Asmara is a clean and safe city free from severe congestion and pollution. The affordable, accessible, reliable and convenient public transportation system contributes to the cleanliness of the city. The public transport system of Asmara is efficient and safe. A strong public transport system not only helps address problems of traffic congestion and reduce pollution levels but also promotes a safe and sustainable environment for citizens. The red buses, white minibusses and yellow taxis in Asmara give public urban transportation service.

Asmara provides a transportation system that is efficient and responsive to users’ demands. A traveler can reach any part of Asmara by paying 2 Nakfa (1 USD is equal to 15 Nakfa). Through big public subsidies, the cost of urban transportation in Asmara has been made affordable. The levels of mobility and accessibility are equally high. Mobility refers to the movement of people and accessibility is the ease with which people can travel and the ability to give quality services.

Currently, Asmara has modest transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation, and waste management systems, which are central to urban development. Infrastructure plays an important role in stimulating urban development that responds to the needs of future growth. In addition to public transport, the bicycle is a very popular and common mode of transportation in Asmara. Asmara is a bicycle-friendly city where workers and students, old and young, boys and girls are using bicycles as the first means of transportation.

Urban transport in Asmara, which is operated by the Department of Transport in the Central region, works to achieve operational efficiency, safety, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

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