News / Africa

DRC Road Users Protest Tolls, Lack of Maintenance

People ride with their belongings on a wooden bicycle as they flee from renewed fighting between Congolese army and M23 rebels near the eastern Congolese city of Goma, July 24, 2012.People ride with their belongings on a wooden bicycle as they flee from renewed fighting between Congolese army and M23 rebels near the eastern Congolese city of Goma, July 24, 2012.
x
People ride with their belongings on a wooden bicycle as they flee from renewed fighting between Congolese army and M23 rebels near the eastern Congolese city of Goma, July 24, 2012.
People ride with their belongings on a wooden bicycle as they flee from renewed fighting between Congolese army and M23 rebels near the eastern Congolese city of Goma, July 24, 2012.
Nick Long
In the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, road users are in revolt. Bus and truck operators are canceling services and, according to the authorities, refusing to pay tolls to protest the state of the roads.

Seven in the morning on a weekday at the "Bon Voyage" or "Have a Good Journey" parking bay in Goma. This is where minibuses normally wait for passengers going to Butembo, in the north of North Kivu province.
 
Passenger Pastor Didier Lukinga, who said he also is a bus owner, is wondering where most of the buses are. He said five bus companies make this trip, but this morning there are only two buses here. This shows, he said, the strike has started against road tolls because none of the money appears to be spent on fixing the roads.

The head of the provincial branch of the Drivers’ Association of Congo [ACCO], Oscar Bulambo, said that like just about everyone else in Congo, the association’s members are deeply frustrated with the state of the country’s roads.

“They are terrible," he said. When it comes to the roads, Bulambo said the Congolese are living in hell compared to their neighbors in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
 
Traveling times are far longer in most of the DRC than in neighboring countries. Last year the United Nations reported that a convoy of food trucks took nearly two weeks to cover 300 kilometers in North Kivu province.
 
Bulambo asserted that the condition of the roads has worsened since 2008 when the government set up a new body called FONER or the National Road Maintenance Fund, which is run from the capital, Kinshasa. FONER now collects and administers all the road tolls.

“Do you really think people in Kinshasa - 2,000 kilometers from Goma - are going to stretch themselves to repair our roads even when it’s an emergency?” asked Bulambo.

Lately, he said, an important bridge at Epulu gave way and it took five months to repair, and another key bridge at Lindi, linking two major cities, also took five months to repair.

The solution, argued Bulambo, is to hand the road tolls back to the province and to the local business federation, which used to manage them jointly.
 
The provincial government, not surprisingly, agrees that it could better manage the road tolls.
 
Bus operators who spoke with VOA, like Christophe Gasinda, also agreed the old system was better.

“With the old system,” said Gasinda, “at least we saw some achievements. They did try to repair the roads, but nowadays with FONER they don’t repair any part of the network.”
 
VOA visited the FONER office in Goma. No one was there apart from a watchman, who said the five staff who normally work there had all been away for the past four days.

Finally, the deputy director of FONER for North Kivu, who gave his name as Mutaka, was reached on a bad phone line, and asked for his reaction to the complaints.
 
“FONER is not an agency that carries out road works, it is a funding agency," he said. "We finance the roads.” Mutaka blamed the Roads Office, the government agency that normally carries out the repairs. He said they should have to explain what they had done with FONER’s funding.
 
Mutaka said that recently the governor of the province had received $500,000 and with that money the work was to be done.  
 
But the provincial director of the Roads Office, Nkonko Kimalua, told VOA that FONER had not provided $500,000 for road repairs in the province and, that in any case, the amount was far short of what is needed.  
 
A United Nations expert, Hien Adjemian, agreed that far more needs to be spent. He told VOA that the United Nations had spent a million dollars in the past year trying to open up North Kivu’s roads, an amount he described as "not very significant."
 
According to the Roads Office in Goma, the international community used to take much more responsibility for maintaining the DRC’s roads. Nkonko Kimalua said that until 1991 the World Bank was spending $60 million a year on Congo’s Roads Office, enabling it to pay for the fuel for its bulldozers and earth-moving equipment. The office in Goma still has these machines, but they are now mostly idle.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid