Transport in Gambella is in a much better shape due to improved road network and development which Gambella has experienced over the last few years. About three modes of transport operate in the region during summer/wet season when the rivers swells because of the abundant rainfall in the Ethiopian high lands flowing down toward the Gambella lowlands. Then in that instance, boats become valuable means transporting people and goods to weredas which become inaccessible by vehicles due to flooding. Therefore, the transport network in Gambella can be classified in to three modes; Road, river and Air.
The road transport operates between Gambella and Addis Ababa and between Gambella and weredas.
Road Transport to Addis Ababa
Gambella bus service to Addis Ababa operates daily from the state capital which is 777 kilometres away from Addis Ababa. A journey to Gambella from Addis Ababa takes two days as passengers pass the night in Bedele/Agaro before they reach their final destination in the following day. It previously takes three days where passengers pass the night in Jimma and Metu before they arrive on the third day. This seems to be a long journey especially when the distance seems to be that short. But buses in most Ethiopian regional states do not travel more than 50 miles per hour especially in densely populated areas of the Ethiopian high lands where roads are shared with people and cattle. Nonetheless, the atmosphere among passengers is very positive not realizing the lengthy period they have to travel as they are engaged with newspapers and news magazines. On the other hand, the beautiful Ethiopian songs play their part on bus’s CDs making hours pass like minutes and minutes pass just like seconds. Then the journey becomes pleasant where passengers get engage with those sort of things and at the same time while looking through the bus’s windows and see the hills and mountains of the Ethiopian highlands and plateaus including the green forest found in the country’s western highlands.
Road Transport to other Gambella weredas
Most weredas in Gambella are connected with regional capital, Gambella town by roads. However, a significant number of them are yet to be joined with the Gambella town road network. Some of these weredas which are already linked with the Gambella town include Abobo, Gog, Itang, Jokow, Jor, Lare and Wanthoa. The other weredas which are yet to be joined with the Gambella town include Akobo, Dimma Godere, Matar and Mengesh.
Dimma, Godere and Mengesh are accessible by road but through the Oromia national regional state and Southern nations Nationalities and People’s Regions (SNNPR). A journey which could take only few hours from Gambella town can takes a full day because vehicles travel through Gore, Macha and then Tepi when going to Mejeng zone. As for a trip to Dimma, the journey becomes even longer because passengers will then make it all the way to Mizan Tefferi traveling through Shoa Gimira before they reach Dimma.
The Dimma to Jor road which could connect the two weredas has been in construction for nearly a decade and the sooner it takes the better it would become for the Gambella Transport Network so that commuters would not have to travel via Oromia and SNNPRS. There is also another road from Abobo weredas under construction to link Abobo with the Mejeng zone.
Like other national regional states of Ethiopia which the Ethiopian Air Line travels to, Gambella is not an exception. The Ethiopian Airline travels to Gambella three days a week. The schedules are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. This has been a relief to many local public including business people and government employee who travel frequently to Addis Ababa either for their business related matters or seminars. The benefit of this air transport is that it only takes about 55 minutes and passengers do not get tired and fatigue. This allows them to work at the same day they have travelled.
River transport is not used in a wide scale because it comes only when the Akobo, Baro, Gilo rivers are over flooded. Then boats become the only means of transport particular in weredas that becomes that have no better roads such as Akobo. This usually happens around July when river banks of the Baro and Akobo river are no longer visible. Boats are also significant means of transport allowing the Ethiopian and South Sudanese merchants to transport their goods by the river.
Gambella town transport