A Train to Nowhere
At the turn of the 20th century, Ethiopia was being pulled apart by internal strife and the colonial involvement by France, Italy, and Britain. One major French investment in landlocked Ethiopia was the railway line that stretched to the port in Djibouti. France, I suppose, thought it could control imports and exports to Ethiopia and hence have control over the economy. Italy was running arms and ammunition and Britain was trying to constrain the other two colonial powers by its presence in Sudan and elsewhere.
While the train served Ethiopia's purposes to export its goods and bring in foreign capital, it realized that France's role had to be diminished. So the government mandated that all goods coming into the country had to be carried by camel caravan -- a distance of some 800 kilometers. And then, WWI and WWII intervened.
The railway fell into disuse years ago. The one road that extends to Djibouti now carries all imports and exports via trucks and busses to and from the ports. Having this train back in service would afford Ethiopia a much better method of transport, but the railway gauge is now non-standard and would have to be entirely replaced. And there's no money for that in the coffers.
When I was brought to this old station, I wondered why and wanted to leave immediately. But when I walked through the old gate and came round behind the building where the tracks ran and where the platform still exists, I realized that I pushed one of my very few artsy hot buttons: urban decay photography. So, take a tour of the old railway system here in Addis by glancing at the photos below.
Here's one last shot...another artsy door/portal shot.