Madagascar’s capital has a new means of public transport. The first cable car rode over neighborhoods of Antananarivo carrying President Andriy Rajoelina, city officials and project contractors.

Capable of carrying up to 75,000 passengers a day, the cars are designed to reduce congestion in the Malagasy capital, which today has a population of over 3 million.

“Remove 75,000 passengers every day, at bus level, remove 2,000 cars at Tana road level, it’s already a lot in terms of carbon savings and especially mobility,” said Gérard Andriamanohisoa, Secretary of State for New Towns and Housing at the Presidency.

The 152 million Euro loan for construction was provided by France. The cars will take passengers over a distance of 12 kilometres. Throughout June, tests were conducted to assess the safety of the cars.

“We have a lot of sensors in the stations and on the line, to detect any problems before they occur, so we can stop the lift and make sure there’s no risk to passengers. We also have generators to ensure that, in the event of a power cut, we can continue to run the train,” said Guillaume Rannaz, a technical Manager at Poma, the project contractors.

At nearly one Euro a ticket, many Malagasy already feel priced out. The price is also six times the price of a bus ticket.

Some residents of the capital are unhappy, saying power and water cuts should have been looked into before cable cars.

“We don’t have water, we don’t have electricity, and when we do have water, it’s just mud coming out of the tap, even though we’re still paying the bills! Why not solve these social problems first?,” asked Henry Razafimanantsoa, a resident of Antananarivo.

President Rajoelina has fiercely defended the project despite criticism that it increases the country’s indebtedness to France, Madagascar’s former colonial ruler.

“We have to dare to transform and develop our country. It’s always the people who criticized who couldn’t do anything. Whether we should have done this project or not, I say yes. You know, there was a lot of criticism of the construction of the Eiffel Tower. But what is it now that attracts tourists to France? Isn’t it the Eiffel Tower?,” Rajoelina said.

The government said a subsidized fare is planned for students and pensioners.

The cars will not be put into circulation for the general public until 2025.

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