The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially handed over crucial sites to Dott Services Limited, paving the way for the start of the long-awaited construction of the 223 Kilometer road network that will open the Eastern part of the country to cross border trade with Uganda.
The project is branded as the Regional Connectivity Roads Project, also known as ‘DRC Roads Project.’
The handover ceremony took place in two DRC cities of Beni and Goma in the North Kivu Province on Friday, December 3rd, 2021.
The two ceremonies were witnessed by two delegations from Uganda and DRC, plus the Dott Services Limited leadership, a Ugandan construction firm that won the tender to build the roads.
The Ugandan delegation was led by the Minister of Works and Transport Gen. Katumba Wamala. The DRC delegation was led by the DRC Minister for Infrastructure and Public Works Mr. Alexi Gisaro Muvunyi.
The handover of the sites came on the heels of a visit to the company’s Inland Custom Deports (ICD) at Namanve Industrial Park in Uganda on Wednesday last week by the steering committee of nine members comprised of technical officials from DRC, Uganda and Dott which was set up to fast track the road construction project. Following the visit, the committee was satisfied that the company was ready for the job following its display of relevant equipment and technical capacity.
During the handover, Gen Katumba appealed to Congolese residents to support the construction.
“Do not steal the roads equipment. Do not touch the fuel and other essentials. This opportunity has come to you to benefit from it in a meaningful way. Please give all the support to the contract and work with them to ensure that the project succeeds,” he said.
DRC Minister for Infrastructure and Public Works, Hon Muvunyi revealed that the project would boost trade between the two countries and promised the population that the construction will bring jobs and interconnectedness with Uganda.
The North Kivu Governor Lieutenant General Ndima Kongba Constant asked the Congolese to back the project:
“When the contractor is hungry, give him food. When he is thirsty, give him water, when he needs a room, and give him a bed to sleep on. This is because they have come to not only to build roads but also to improve our livelihoods employ you,” he said.
The leaders observed that the trade between the countries is going to grow since transportation of goods between the two countries has been hampered by poor infrastructure in the past.
“I urge the children of Goma, Beni, Kasindi and Nyiragongo to warm the project and grant it peace and tranquility,” Gen Ndima appealed.
On their part, Dott Services Limited promised to move road equipment to DRC this week in order to commence road works. So far, Dott Services Limited has assembled 40 trucks, 22 rollers, 22 graders, and 22 excavators and 20 fabricated containers to cover office space and residences for the company staff. The company has additionally promised to move this equipment to the designated sites in DRC this week.
In May this year, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed two agreements aimed at enhancing bilateral trade and strengthening infrastructure development for the mutual benefit of both countries.
The signing of these agreements followed the State visit to Uganda by Felix Antionè Tshisekedi from 9th – 10th November 2019 where both Presidents emphasized the importance of developing cross–border infrastructure which is essential to facilitate trade between the two countries.
The agreements came from a background that despite the lucrative business opportunities between the two nations, trade has been hampered by the poor road network.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was signed by President Yoweri Museveni and Chrisrophe Lutundula Apala, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and witnessed by Jacob Oulanyah Speaker of the Republic of Uganda.
The DRC roads are broken down as follows:
➡ Mpondwe/Kasindi- Beni (80km)
➡ Bunagana- Rutshuru- Goma Road (89km)
➡ Beni-Butembo Axis (54km)