Awassa, a bike-friendly town
As a fast growing town, Awassa is a commercial and economic centre of the southern region. Many constructions are being undertaken and the town is expanding horizontally and vertically. The bustling and beautiful town of Awassa is home to numerous factories, a university and a growing number of hotels, offices and shops.
Wandering about the town affords pleasant experience, especially for a newcomer .The town has wide and palm-lined streets and garden with colorful flowers.
As one who visited Awassa for the first time, what surprised most was the number of bicycles. There are lots of them on the road.
As a quick and affordable way of traveling, people use them to commute in and around the town. Young girls ride bikes as much as boys do. I have seen even a mother taking her children to school in her bike, holding one in the front and the other at the back.
I have heard that there are around 20,000 bikes in the town. And they are less expensive there, though they come via Addis. Probably this has something to do with the high demand there and merchants bring them in large in numbers and put them up for sale.
Bicycle service and repair at the corner shops are regular prt of life.The shops are often no more than a narrow space between two buildings into which had been crowded a jumble of paraphernalia.
However, bicycle owners have one daunting problems there: the high-rate of thefts.Bike thefts are widespread and it is common to find people who have lost one, two, or three bikes to the street.The reasons are: bikes are lightweight, easy to operate and mobile, hence easy to steal.Owners had to be particularly on the watch when they are parking in public places. Locking them doesn’t help much , as the thief’s have their own ‘master keys’, I was told, or they would break the locks.Tires, inner tubes, lamps and bells need constant examination or replacement, since theft of these items are frequent.
A young man from Awassa, whom I befriended, told me that the town police are missing in action. He says they have ‘sheer disregard’ for the public and their properties and have intervened little while they receive so many reports of thefts.
But the local FM, that young man, tells me is giving tips on how to minimizes the risk of theft on a day to day basis. I just hope residents would benefit from these tips.