Bunia-Kasenyi route reopens

The 48-km road linking Kasenyi, on the shores of Lake Albert in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to Bunia, the main city of Ituri District, has been rehabilitated, the UN Mission in DRC, known as MONUC, reported on Wednesday.

Not only would the repair of the road axis enable Bunia to be supplied with fish and other essential products from neighbouring Uganda, MONUC said, but it would also contribute to reconciliation efforts between communities, notably the Hema and Lendu, who have been caught up in an economically driven ethnic conflict.

MONUC said it had established security checkpoints along the axis, in an effort to curb "isolated acts of banditry". Furthermore, beginning on Tuesday, MONUC forces will escort transport convoys twice weekly along the route.

MONUC also said improved security would encourage the return of thousands of internally displaced persons. To this end, international NGO German Agro Action (GAA) has distributed more than 250,000 non-food item kits, plastic sheeting and hoes to facilitate the mass return, which, according to MONUC, is already underway along the Bunia-Kasenyi axis.

The renovation of the road was initiated in August 2003 by GAA, financed by USAID and carried out in large part by the Nepalese engineering unit of MONUC, with the support of GAA, Uruguayan and Indonesian engineers. Work is now continuing on the 9-km road linking Kasenyi and Tchomia. Once completed, travel time between Bunia and Tchomia would be about two hours, according to MONUC.