DR Congo

DRC: First commercial cargo barge arrives in Kisangani

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KINSHASA, 3 February (IRIN) - A commercial cargo barge has arrived in Kisangani in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from the capital, Kinshasa, the first to do so after four years of suspended river traffic due to war, according to the UN mission in the DRC.
The pro-Rwanda Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) movement that has been battling to unseat the government in Kinshasa controls Kisangani, in Oriental Province.

A priest in the city, Abbe Jean-Pierre Badidike, told IRIN that the barge had arrived on 27 January with 550 mt of goods for the local Catholic mission, a bakery and a palm oil factory.

It arrived at a time when the RCD had seized a consignment of humanitarian items bound for the NGO, Paix sur terre (Peace on Earth). It had travelled to Kisangani escorted by UN peacekeepers. The RCD demanded documents and, after complying, the NGO was accused of not being in possession of proper authorisation and failing to have declared the end use of the goods.

"This is a problem of the end use of the consignment, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisangani, an RCD spokesman, told IRIN. "Either it is humanitarian material, being brought in for distribution to the needy, or it is commercial. The NGO has led us to believe that the goods are for humanitarian use, but our investigations have revealed that they are for sale."

The RCD authorities have not said if others will follow this first commercial barge. Over the past year, several barges carrying humanitarian goods have made the journey (to Kisangani) through territory controlled by the government and rebels.

[ENDS]

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