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Congestion, confusion at Addis Ababa

I AM still receiving phone calls and e-mails from readers of this column demanding to know what has been done about the government employees who misbehaved aboard a Lusaka-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa last month.
The readers have been reacting to my write-up in which I described the embarrassing behaviour of some Zambian passengers during that flight.
Mr Enock Daka, for example, wondered why the government ministries and agencies that sent those people to China have kept quiet.
Mr Daka suggested a number of sanctions that could be slapped on the culprits once they are identified.
In my article I explained that I was travelling back to Zambia from Beijing, China, after a two-week tour of the Asian country in the company of Zambia Daily Mail managing director Nebat Mbewe and Times of Zambia assistant features editor Stanslous Ngosa.
I mentioned that we were joined by two groups of fellow Zambians at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as we waited for our connecting flight to Lusaka.
Following the publication of that article a lot has been happening away from the public glare.
For example, one government agency that had members of staff on Flight ET 605 on September 24, 2015 has absolved its employees from the misbehaviour.
I have also been conducting my own investigations. I wasn’t a detective for over seven years for nothing. My preliminary findings indicate that there were actually more than two groups of Zambians on that flight.
There was a group coming from a study tour on environmental protection and conservation, and another which had just attended a conference and meetings on road safety.
I have learned that these two groups are innocent. I have absolved them from the blame. They are acquitted.
There was actually another group comprising members of defence and security wings who were returning from some training or workshop on information and communication technology (ICT) from China.
Almost all the fingers are pointing at these officers and their Zimbabwean counterparts. The men and woman who turned the plane into a chibuku tavern belonged to this team, and should identifying the culprits be a big deal sure?
Now let us focus on more productive issues. One reader sent this comment after reading the summarised account of my tour of China:
Dear ba Chisala,
Thanks for the article, and your visit to China. Most of us have a view that China is underdeveloped, so is Iran when you watch ‘Not without My Daughter’.
Anyway I always bemoan our culture of dirtiness in Zambia. Littering is the order of the day, trespassing, unsightly conditions and foul smells. Our environment is dirty. Last year I was privileged to visit the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
I was really impressed with the order and cleanliness in the environment. Surely we don’t need forex to keep our cities clean all we is mindset change and planning ahead as of now the President is focusing on 2064, which is good.
The Central Statistical Office should play a major role in planning. The number of motor vehicles has increased but our roads are still narrow.
I hope we can pick a leaf from China. I visited Zimbabwe in 1999 and South Africa in 2001. I was impressed in all sectors.
Schippol Airport in the Netherlands is marvelous and Oliver Tambo in Johannesburg.
I was surprised that former President Rupiah Banda had suggested to build a new airport but there was strong resentment…..
Chulu Andrew.
I agree with you my brother.
Last week I promised you that our journey to and through China would begin today. Well, here we go. We have just landed at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
We have to jump on another Ethiopian Airlines flight to Beijing, our final destination. What crowds! What noise, what confusion! There is so much congestion.
This airport needs expansion.
People of all races, with the Chinese and Indians topping the list, are running and walking from one point of the complex to another looking for the correct check-in point or departure gate.
Overworked airport and airline staff are everywhere shouting into walkie-talkies helping anxious passengers through the confusion. I am with Stanslous Ngosa, Times of Zambia assistant features editor.
We left Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) around 15:30 hours and arrived in Addis around 19:30 hours, and our connecting flight is some minutes past midnight.
We need to find some empty chairs in which we can collapse, but it is almost wishful thinking finding one. Some people are sleeping across two to three chairs, and it would be impolite to wake them up.
We are in no mood to start quarrels with strangers.
So we resort to looking out for anyone who seems to be packing up, whose boarding time is up and their flight is being mentioned through the PA system.
Eish! We need to respond to the incessant nagging of our bodies first. A prize winning feat to pull. There are long queues at every public convenience we try to use, in some cases as many as 10 men to one urinal or ‘heavy duty’ booth.
After much waiting, and fidgeting, I am finally at the urinal and my bladder is grateful.
After almost half an hour of bumping into people, jostling, shoving and wiggling through the mass of perspiring human bodies we locate our check-in and departure gate.
But our flight is almost four hours away. The noise is unbearable. Some Ethiopians are dancing to loud music and shouting at the top of their voices in a cafe. At first the travellers think it is amusing, but it is clear that the din is flaying their nerves.
Their grim faces are telling it all.
The airport authorities could do with some more cleanliness. The standards at the modern but clearly inadequate facility are a serious affront to the good name Ethiopian Airlines enjoys in global aviation circles.
Finally we find two empty chairs and slump into them. We continue next Sunday.