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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More