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Tolls delay construction of road between DRC and Zambia

The construction of the road that will link the DRC and Zambia has been delayed, to the chagrin of President Félix Tshisekedi. At the origin of the delay, a disagreement on the tolls.

Last May, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, cutting the ribbon of the new Kazungula bridge, which stretches one kilometer between Zambia and Botswana. A new line of communication supposed to promote economic exchanges between the two countries. Félix Tshisekedi may not have known at the time that “his” road between Kasomeno, in DRC, and Mwenda, in Zambia, was going to be a real fiasco: the same month, the ceremony of laying the foundation stone was to be take place in the presence of the Congolese and Zambian heads of state. It was simply canceled.

The Kasomeno-Mwenda cross-border toll road project has been in the pipeline for several years. At the end of 2019, the DRC announced its launch, the cost of the work of which would amount to $ 473 million - financed by a public-private partnership (PPP) - and the site would take three years. But we will certainly have to wait a little longer to see this 277-kilometer route welcome carriers and thus relieve congestion at the Kasumbalesa border post.

Zambia on time, DRC behind

On the Zambian side, however, the work has progressed well. And if, last February, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Public Works, Willy Ngoopos Sunzhel, praised the progress of work on the Congolese side, the delay accumulated by Kinshasa is enormous. The fault in particular to major disagreements between the authorities of the country and the promoters of the project which, indicates Africa Intelligence, do not manage to agree on the distribution of the receipts of the tolls.

What to provoke the annoyance of the Congolese president. Félix Tshisekedi spoke on April 24 with Edgar Lungu, the Zambian head of state. The two presidents reiterated their interest in joint infrastructure projects between the two countries.

But for Tshisekedi, the interview sparked anger. Because the site, if it is delayed, is of capital importance for the DRC and Zambia. For the Zambian president, this road represents a major electoral issue: in August, the Zambian will organize her presidential election and this project is therefore essential to support the results of Edgar Lungu.

The cross-border road should help relieve congestion on the current road that connects Lubumbashi, in Haut-Katanga, and the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. In particular for the transport of mining raw materials.

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