Brazzaville to Pool train resumes service

Train services between the Republic of Congo capital, Brazzaville, and the recently troubled Pool Department resumed on Tuesday after a six-year suspension, the director-general of the Congo-Ocean Railway Company (or the CFCO), Jacky Trimardeau, said.

The resumption of the service follows the gradual return to peace to Pool, in the southwest of the country.

"The train is 100 percent owned by CFCO. It was rebuilt in 35 days in our workshops and comprises five coaches four of which are second class and the other first class. Three other wagons are for freight," he said.

The chairman of the Association of the Pool Youth (Association des jeunes resortissants du pool), Clotaire Boutsindi, said that the revival of services would help the formerly internally displaced people, who now live in villages close to the railway, to rebuild their lives. It would also spur the public to resume farming because they could now get their produce to markets more easily.

"With four train departures weekly, Brazzaville residents will be supplied with more food," Sylviane Donga, a banana seller along the railway line, said. "Economic activity will resume after a long suspension. It will be easier to care for our families."

The railway company's infrastructure was destroyed in Brazzaville and in the departments of Pool, Kouilou, Lekoumou and Bouenza during the conflict between the government and rebel groups. Rehabilitation of these infrastructure cost the government around $11.3 million.

The 250-km Brazzaville-Loutete railway line was often attacked by Ninja militiamen loyal to the Rev Frederic Bitsangou, while government troops in charge of security frequently robbed travellers. However, now that the political climate has improved, security of the train is in the hands of the Ninja and elements of the national gendermarie, who signed and agreement with the railway authorities.

"All the rail stations will soon be open with the arrival of the Air Pool train," Emilienne Raoul, the minister for solidarity and humanitarian action, said recently.