IRC-led Railway Project Breaks Isolation of Congolese Region
The roads leading out of Kisangani, once an economic hub in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, are little more than dirt tracks, passable in most places only by motorbikes. To bring the war-torn city closer to the rest of the country, the IRC has taken the lead in a project that will rehabilitate the railroad from Kisangani to Ubundu, 125 kilometers to the south.
“The railroad will be a vital link,” says Andrea De Domenico, IRC provincial coordinator in Kisangani. “From Ubundu there are connections to other parts of the country, such as Kindu, and from there to the entire continent.
The train will have a huge impact and it is giving a lot of hope to people. It will boost the economy and reduce the price of goods,” he said. “But more important, it will give the entire region access to the outside world, and vice versa. The first 25-kilometer-stretch of the railroad was completed in mid-October and a trial run was carried out successfully. The IRC is coordinating the entire project, which involves a number of partners, including the UN, a state-owned railway company and other agencies. The UN agency OCHA is funding the project. It is hoped that the entire railroad link will be completed by mid-November.
“It will take eight hours to travel between Kisangani and Ubundu,” says De Domenico. “That’s a remarkable improvement in this part of the country. Beyond that, the amount of freight that can be transported in and out of the region will be increased exponentially.”