In an attempt to tackle the growing number of road traffic accidents, Addis Ababa Traffic Management Agency is ensuing on the mandatory installation of speed limiters on all commercial vehicles in the capital.
Vehicles registered in the capital with commercial purposes such as public transport vehicles with capacity from 12 up to 65 seats, carriage service givers, and dump trucks in Addis Ababa will be forced to install the speed limiters with built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers begging from the next month.
The maximum speed commercial vehicles will be allowed to drive in the capital will be 80km/h, unless the roads have lower speed limits in place.
Through the built-in GPS, the device will receive data about specific speed limits put in places such as roads around schools and limit the vehicles’ speed in line with the road’s speed limit.
“Speeding is one of the major causes of accidents in the capital, and most of these accidents are caused by commercial vehicles,” said Birhanu Girma, deputy general director at the Agency.
In the past fiscal year, 117,000 drivers in the capital were fined for speeding, while in 2019, 27 percent of the deaths and 31 percent of physical injury were caused by commercial vehicles.
The city administration believes the installation of the speed limiters is a step in the right direction and positively impact road safety.
The speed limiters to be installed will have an audio warning when the maximum speed is reaching and will limit the vehicle’s speed by utilizing a small pressure reducing valve in the fuel line to restrict fuel flow to the injector pump. The limiters will also flag over speeding attempts to the Agency.
The mandatory installation of the limiters is the part of implementing the nationwide rule passed in 2018 that mandated all vehicles in Ethiopia to install speed limiters. Though the directive was passed two years ago, its implementation had been slow.
As part of its new road safety strategy, the Agency plans to install speed limiters on all vehicles registered in the capital within the next three years.
After the mandatory installation of the devices on commercial vehicles is finalized, installing the speed limiters on diplomatic, government, and non-government organizational vehicles and then finally on private vehicles will be followed subsequently.
Begging from July 2020, the Agency has been looking for speed limiter importing and installing companies to license as devices installed by licensed companies will only be accepted.
The Agency is looking for potential companies with the professional and technical capacity that can meet its feet management system requirement, device specification, and warranty commitment.
According to Birhanu, the Agency wants speed limiters that can’t be easily removed and overridden. The limiters should also send the vehicle data to a database center using a telecommunication fleet management system.
“A lot of companies have come forward with their proposal, and we are in the final stages of agreeing with three suppliers,” said Birhanu.
“In addition, we are making an effort to work with companies that are already licensed by the Federal Transport Authority,” added Birhanu.
The mandatory installation will soon commence once the Agency licenses the suppliers. After the system is put in place, the Agency will use random checkups on the road to force commercial vehicles to install the system. Also, annual competence certificates will not be issued for commercial vehicles which have not installed the limiters.
ETN Technology, a company established two years ago, is one of the companies that are interested in working with the Agency.
“We import speed limiters that are in match with the Ethiopian standard set by the Federal Transport Authority from China,” said Samrawit Tesfaye, administration head at ETN Technology.
The company that was previously installing GPS trackers on motorcycles two months ago diversified into installing speed limiters on cars.
In its two months operation, it had installed 120-speed limiters and sells speed limiters for around 9500 birr, which is also the market price of the type of speed limiters installed on commercial vehicles.
Even though the 2018 law that imposed all vehicles in the country has not been fully implemented, sector-specific regulations are being applied.
The Ethiopian Customs Commission since June 2019, has forced the installation of speed limiters with GPS systems on all cargo trucks. The strict law states that the transporters that fail to install the system may not engage in the transportation of import or export goods.
New vehicles that get imported in the country have also been required to install speed limiters to get license plates.
At the end of the last fiscal year, around 10,000 vehicles in Ethiopia had installed speed limiters. At the same time, about 40 companies were licensed by the Federal Transport Authority to install the limiters at the federal level.
The Agency also says it has been slowly strengthening its institutional capacity to take its new responsibilities and had been piloting and experimenting with the technology.
“583 Anbessa City Buses, 410 public buses and all Sheger buses found in the capital have already installed speed limiters and are operating within the system,” added Birhanu.
Though the mandatory installations brought cheer for those who import the devices, the technology is receiving mixed feelings among drivers.
“Driving below 80 km/h in Addis Ababa is a very sensible and reasonable thing,” said Zewude Teferi, a commercial vehicle driver in the city.
“However, the speed limiters will make life havoc for those who travel outside of Addis,” he added.
But the Agency states that drivers should not worry about the device when they are traveling outside of Addis. The Agency notes that since the technology is location-based, it won’t limit the vehicles’ speed outside of Addis.
There are close to 1.1 million vehicles in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa accounts for 56 percent of all the vehicles and around 13 pc of all car accidents in the country. In the last fiscal year, the city recorded, 455 deaths which showed a five pc decrease from the year before.