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DRC's Poor Transportation System Blamed for Recent Surge in Accidents - 2003-12-01


An airplane crashed in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, killing almost 30 people. The accident came on the same day as a truck accident claimed 18 lives in the east of the country and only days after a ferry disaster in the west of the country had claimed approximately 200 lives.

With two wars over after seven years of conflict, Congo's citizens are finally on the move again after being cut off from different parts of the country, held by the former government and different rebel groups.

With its road infrastructure patchy at best, and obliterated and quagmired at worst, the country is dependent on airplanes and the mighty Congo river, which stretches thousands of kilometers into the country's interior and is the umbilical cord for a decimated country.

But following years of war, neglect and underinvestment in the country's infrastructure, many of the country's remaining boats and planes are in woeful condition.

On Saturday, an Antonov-26 plane carrying around 20 passengers crashed immediately after takeoff from the town of Boende, in the jungles of Congo's northwestern province of Equateur. All passengers and crew died, along with a handful of civilians and military personnel on the ground who were crushed by the plummeting aircraft.

On the same day, a road accident was reported in the east of the country, this time, failing brakes on a truck which crashed off a hilly road, killing 18 and wounding several other people.

Last Tuesday, a ferry on Lake Mai-Ndombe, in the west of the country, was smashed up by a storm, and sank, drowning roughly half of the 400 passengers on board. Shocked members of a government delegation was sent to the site, to console the public, and promise financial and humanitarian assistance for the survivors and the victims' families.

Then, on Wednesday, a freight train hit a landslide after leaving the port town of Matadi in the far west of the country and derailed, killing 11.

All accidents, apart from the train crash, were reportedly exacerbated by overloading the vehicles, in the case of the boat, doubling the recommended passenger size. The site of overcrowded boats and vehicles is a common site in a country where not much infrastructure remains, and poverty is rife.

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