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Coming to Goma : Where roads are considered dangerous | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

It is unimaginable that a place which witnessed genocide is being considered safe and beautiful. Whatever the reasons, Rwanda with all its history of violence has turned out to be a pretty manicured country.

It took us 5 hours to reach Congo border as cars travelling outside the city could not be driven more than 60 km per hour. It was irritating but surprised at the fact that cars have been fitted with GPS system which alerts the authorities when the rule is violated.

What also stuck my eye was the impressive roads built by the Rwandan government. This is the shape of a country which is not resource rich. It does not produce gold but exports it. The joke is that it all comes from Congo which produces it but cannot export it properly as it gets pilfered away. Another striking detail was absence of waste and rubbish on the road side. Mountains looked green and road sides were clean. I could not spot a plastic on the Rwandan highway.

I was told that plastic has been banned by the Rwandan government. It is not that success in some areas have changed the fundamental structure of society or killed equality in Rwanda. It’s just that some good decisions have been made. But in Kingali, the hill tops continue to be occupied by the rich and poor in the valley. So, there are somethin which don’t change.

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Crossing into Congo was easy but the difference was stark. Suddenly beautiful houses dotting lake Kivu gave away to poor housing areas. Well maintained infrastructure of the other side gave way to shanty towns. I saw hundreds of young men sitting ideally on the road sides, a clear sign that jobs are few.

You move out of Goma and you realise that roads are a luxury. Few roads have been built in last three years but vast areas of Congo are unconnected.  Taxis runs on two wheelers and their areas where it takes 2 days to cover 250 kilometres. Imagine what UN Peace Keeping Mission have to go through in when they are asked to intervene in an area 150 km away.

The condition of the road is also a good indicator. It tells you which part of the city you are travelling in. Congo continues to suffer from the curse of resource. Despite abundant resources, people have not benefited.  Loyalties arte divided on tribal identities and roads are considered dangerous as they can unite people and make a nation out of multiple tribes and may even prevent economic plunder. It is for this reason, roads are non-existent in Congo. Congo and Rwanda are a study in contrast. Rwanda is not perfect. It has its inequality and ugliness but Rwanda also demonstrates resilience and political will to make a comeback. Congo on the other hand continues to battle the basics. 



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