Rail traffic between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbour Angola has resumed after a 34-year break, providing a vital boost for DRC’s mining exports, officials said.
“The first train left DRC on Monday hauling 50 containers and arrived at Luau station in Moxico province” in eastern Angola , the Congolese presidency said on Tuesday. The train, which left from the border town of Dilolo in southeastern DRC, is heading for the Angolan port of Lobito, on the Atlantic coast, it said.
Ikos Rukal, spokesman for the provincial government of Lualaba, where Dilolo is located, said the 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) Dilolo-Lobito route was “the most cost-effective form of transport” for exporting copper and cobalt from DRC’s southern mining belt. The line was closed during the height of the 1975-2002 Angolan civil war and remained in disuse afterwards because equipment and track had deteriorated.
The line between Lobito and Luau was rebuilt by the China Railway Construction Corporation, and was formally inaugurated in February 2015.
In the absence of the link to the Atlantic, DRC’s mineral ore was exported by truck via Zambia – a 900-kilometre (550-mile) trek on poor roads that greatly increased shipping costs and time.