BRAZZAVILLE, 18 July (IRIN) - In what it says is an effort to put money in the pockets of the poor, the government of the Republic of Congo has disbursed one billion francs CFA (US $1.9 million) to local NGOs for road maintenance.
"I am asking the road maintenance agency, NGOs and associated partners to hire locals, in order to contribute something in the fight against poverty," Florent Ntsiba, the minister for equipment and public works, told IRIN on Friday.
The government hopes some 200 NGOs would engage 10,000 unemployed rural youth in the road repair project. Direct public participation in the effort, Ntsiba said, would help money to circulate and in this way help reduce rural poverty. In addition, pothole-free roads would enable farmers to get their produce to urban markets. The Ministry of Equipment and Public Works said the two-phase road repair effort would entail the bituminisation of some roads.
Many of the country's roads were destroyed during the 1997 civil war. Others have deteriorated because of a lack of maintenance. One of the worst road systems is the Pool Department, where wars were fought in 1998 and 2003. The Ministry of Labour said 86 million francs ($164,298) was needed to repair roads in the Pool. [On the Net: CONGO: Poverty in the midst of natural wealth: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=48051
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