Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Development: Yer doin' it Wrong!

The Congo is BIG, and not known for its highway system, so many rely on the railways set up by the Belgians to extract resources in the colonial era.

But there are problems as documented here.

During an eight-day, 530-mile train journey across southeastern Congo, there were two derailments, several dozen delays, one electricity failure and an ever increasing number of people and goods packed into crammed, stinking hallways, compartments and bathrooms.

The problems are legion. Of 80 locomotives, only 15 are operational. Only 2,262 miles of railway are being used, while 9,358 need repairs. Some tracks are 80 years old, so warped and bent that the trains literally bounce along, losing and loosening parts that must be fixed or remade at each stop.

and then there's this:

The railway employs over 13,000 people, but the last time paychecks were sent out was in May, and that was payment for the spring of 2005. So many employees do not go to work, and bribes are widespread.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to resist temptations,” said Agustín, the police chief at the Kamina station, who gave only his first name. “I do bad things.”

“I haven’t been paid in 29 months,” he added. “How am I supposed to send my children to school?”

What about the IFIs, you ask?

The World Bank has begun a program to manage the trains in a public-private partnership, but it hinges on a new, and unlikely, transparency from S.N.C.C.

“It is very difficult to get things going,” said a World Bank official prohibited from speaking on the record.

Oh. Well don't strain yourselves or anything.

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