News / Africa

    Repairs Begin in CAR After Year of Massive Looting

    Vehicles that have been stripped for parts during looting at the China International Fund depot in Bangui, March 4, 2014. (Nick Long/VOA)
    Vehicles that have been stripped for parts during looting at the China International Fund depot in Bangui, March 4, 2014. (Nick Long/VOA)
    Nick Long
    The rebellion in the Central African Republic last year turned into the worst looting spree the country has ever seen. The Seleka rebels and criminal gangs pillaged businesses, homes, government offices, religious missions, health centers and public utilities.

    The CAR's national union of business leaders recently submitted a list of companies that suffered looting and vandalism after March 24 of last year, the day the Seleka rebel alliance seized power in Bangui.

    The list of 23 companies includes most of the important businesses in the country.

    While the scale of their losses has yet to be calculated, visiting just a few sites around Bangui gives an indication of how damaging the recent upheavals have been.

    Road construction firm looted

    VOA visited the main depot of the country's biggest road construction firm, the China International Fund.  One of the managers, Cyriaque Motoumba, says looters took vast amounts of building materials and equipment.

    He says they emptied the containers of cement and also they took the steel reinforcement bars that the Chinese had stocked in eight of the containers, so now there is nothing.

    Motoumba says 400 tons of steel bars were loaded onto trucks by the Seleka and driven away - to Chad, he believes, because that is where many Seleka mercenaries came from.

    Several vehicles were stolen, he says, and it's clear some of the other vehicles were taken apart.  He shows the inside of a tractor engine.

    "There’s no battery, and they took out the fuel injector, the starter and even the driver’s seat," he said.

    Why didn’t they drive the tractors away? 

    "Chinese vehicles like these are too noticeable," he said.  "People would see them and would see who was driving them."

    He estimates the company took losses of about $14 million from the looting.

    Health structures also targeted

    Some figures have been collected for damage to health structures.  The United Nations says that out of 117 health structures assessed to date, fully 50 percent were looted and 42 percent damaged. 

    The head of a health center in Bangui's Petevo district, Ouba Mossoro, showed VOA around the premises.

    "Well, as you see, there’s nothing left - the medicines were stolen, everything was looted including a sum of money," he said.

    The medical charity Alima, with help from the U.N. Children’s Fund, has started rejuvenating another health center in Bangui, installing a generator, repairing a water tank, and providing equipment, salaries and training.

    Pierre Kojan, a doctor working for Alima at the center, tolds VOA he doesn’t attribute the degradation at this health center to looting.

    "It was a progressive decline, owing to lack of maintenance, with the result that the maternity ward had no instruments, no water and in fact nothing of what was needed for babies to be delivered safely," he said.

    UNICEF has also helped to restore clean water supplies in a number of CAR cities, including Bangui, where it is installing a new pump in the Oubangui River.

    "The company had enormous damage in some of the towns where it provides water - notably at Bambari, where its headquarters was looted and its factory was pillaged, and also at Bossangoa, Bouar and Bozoum," said the national water company’s technical director, Pierre Edouard Lebaramo.

    Seleka involvement

    VOA asked a Seleka commander who is still in Bangui, Mahamat Dhaffane, how the looting could have been allowed to happen.

    "Seleka was rightly accused of being the devil," he said.  "There was looting, there were human rights violations, unacceptable abuses.  But, what people have seen with the anti-balaka militias has been even worse."

    It is true that Muslims’ houses, businesses and mosques have been systematically destroyed since December.

    But how did the Seleka fail to prevent the onset of looting on a massive scale?

    Cyriaque Motoumba believes it was because many of the mercenaries they used had overthrown a CAR government once before, in 2003, when they were fighting for ex-President Bozize, and he had failed to reward them as they had hoped.

    This time around, Motoumba says, the mercenaries didn't wait to get paid.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora