Kinshasa, A Mega City Of Traffic Jams, Potholes, Transit Chaos


Kinshasa, a mega city of traffic jams, potholes, transit chaos

Kinshasa, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 5th Jul, 2024) Cable car, urban rail link or ring road -- Kinshasa has big plans for alleviating its traffic chaos but for now, travelling into the megacity remains a daily headache for millions of people.

Viviane Yuka leaves for work at 5:00 am every day to battle through the Congolese capital's clogged-up streets where motorbikes, packed buses and taxis compete for space.

The city has 17 million inhabitants across 24 communes but still has no real public transport system and nearly all the passenger vehicles on its roads are privately owned.

"We suffer so much to find transport, we often go long distances on foot," Yuka, who sells brushes and brooms at one of Kinshasa's sprawling markets, told AFP.

Once aboard one of the yellow minibuses -- a mode of transport ominously known locally as the "Spirit of Death" -- passengers endure the "suffocation" of being crammed in like sardines, the mother said.

She never knows exactly how much she will be charged.

A lack of standardised fares means she can pay anything from 4,000 to 8,000 Congolese francs, about $1.5 to $3.

"The state must take responsibility by determining the price of each journey, as was the case in the past," ticket seller Maitre Brice said.

On many roads, including some considered main thoroughfares, deep potholes or pools of dirty stagnant water are not uncommon.

After a river burst its banks some months ago, part of a road near the University of Kinshasa in the west of the city is still submerged.

Motorbike taxi driver Leon Kumba Hamba, who takes the road every day, ponders whether the authorities have ever dared driving on it themselves.

It's so bad, he now charges customers between 3,000 and 5,000 Congolese francs to cross the submerged street to the university, instead of the usual rate of 1,000 francs.

"We suffer so much... it's so annoying," the 31-year-old grumbled, his shoes and trousers soaked from the water.