Dem. Rep. of Congo: Local community claims Chinese construction company CREC 7 charges excessive tolls on unsafe road; company comments included

Author: Pierre Hamdi, France 24, The Observers, Published on: 29 April 2019

"Chinese construction company sets up toll booth in Congo, angers locals", 22 April 2019.

A toll booth in Kasai Central province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, operated by a Chinese construction company has drawn sharp criticism from local residents...Tolls are collected by CREC 7, the Congolese branch of China Railway Group Limited, on a road built by the company that connects the town of Matamba to the border post of Kalamba-Mbuji, next to Angola. The post was opened in 2018 to provide a route to the sea from landlocked Kasai Central...Twitter users swiftly condemned the company, calling the fees "unthinkable."...Balume told The Observers the road was in extremely poor condition...."They made us pay $10 USD for our Jeep. That's extremely expensive for a road that isn't even paved. For a truck, it is $100 USD."...

The CREC 7 empoyee in Kananga, who identified himself only as "Mr. Sami", said the company charged a toll to cover the costs of building the Kalamba-Mbuji road..."...We came to an agreement with the province last October. We were allowed to set up a toll booth to earn back the money we had put into the road. We've since been taking care of the road and are working to repair the damaged bridge."...

The animosity toward CREC 7, which has carried out several roads projects across the Democratic Republic of Congo, has grown in recent months as people seeking jobs in road construction have been turned away by the provincial agency...On March 28, thousands of young job seekers waiting outside the agency's offices began protesting and chanting "No to the Chinese," according to Alain Saveur Makoba, a journalist for the Congolese website Matin Infos...John Badibanga, director of Katanga’s road and road maintenance agency, said..."Kananga residents blame the Chinese company because they think that giving them road contracts costs local people work...They would rather that the contracts go to the roads agency."

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Related companies: China Railway Engineering China Railway Group (CREC) (part of China Railway Engineering)