By JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa
Posted Wednesday, July 6 2011 at 19:26
The River Congo waters have drastically decreased in the first six
months of the year, causing problems for boat navigation.
According to the DRC public company in charge of the waterways - Rï¿½gie
des Voies Fluviales - the phenomenon is unprecedented in DRC history.
ï¿½We are about to declare a state of emergency if the situation lasts
and worsens,ï¿½ said company chairman Benjamin Mukulungu.
In the months of May, June and July, the southern part of the DRC
experiences its dry season. And it is winter season in the rest of
southern Africa, when the weather is generally cold and dry.
However, the weather in the South African region should not explain
the sharp decrease of the Congo waters. According to Congolese
meteorologist Amos Paluku, the low water level is linked to other
climatic changes observed in the country, particularly in the western
ï¿½People should bear in mind that fresh water is extremely precarious
even if Congolese people are used to seeing so much waters in their
environment. This year, water levels are very low in the River Congo.
This should be considered as a serious warning,ï¿½ says Mr Paluku.
The River Congo is the backbone of the national economy. From Katanga
province in south-eastern DRC, the river enters the Atlantic Ocean,
after crossing seven of the countryï¿½s 11 provinces.
Mr Mukulungu, describes the river as the ï¿½wet nurseï¿½ of the entire
country as it is central to the transportation system.
Nowadays, lots of sandbanks are observed at several points of the
river and these prevent boats from berthing alongside the quays. Only
the major quays, such as Kinshasaï¿½s, are accessible throughout the
seasons as they are regularly maintained.
ï¿½Our main concern, as a board of the waterways company, is not
necessarily the decreasing of waters in the river. The real problem is
the lack of maintenance equipment for dredging the sandbanks so as to
allow boats to navigate safely and freely,ï¿½ Mr Mukulungu said.
Acting DRC minister of Transportation Martin Kabwelulu said that the
government was aware of these concerns.
ï¿½The government is doing its best to get a dredging boat for the River
Congo. This should be done within the coming three months,ï¿½ the
The low water affects not only the transportation on the River Congo,
but also the functioning of the Inga dam downstream, in Bas-Congo
province. Inga is the biggest power-generating dam in the entire
The 4,700km River Congo course benefits from the supply of many
important tributaries located in the rainy regions of eastern DRC such
as rivers Kasai, Ubangi, Aruwimi and Lukuga.
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