A WFP barge. The barge has three motors and can carry one 40-ton truck or six light vehicles. (Copyright:WFP/DRC)
A WFP barge which was an essential tool for WFP logistics to provide food to Congolese refugees, who returned from Zambia two years ago, has been handed over to the provincial government of Katanga.
The handover took place on Friday 11 February in Kasenge in a colourful ceremony attended by the regional governor, Moise Katumbi Chapwe, and the WFP Country Director and Representative in the DRC, Mr Abdou Dieng.
The port of Kasenge on the Luapula River has been designated as the home port for the ‘Star Luapula’ by the governor.
The governor thanked WFP saying: ‘This barge will help the economic development of this region. We are deeply grateful to WFP and we will ensure it is well maintained.’
He also thanked WFP for its school feeding projects which have dramatically increased school attendance.
The barge has three motors and can carry one 40-ton truck or six light vehicles.
From 2008 to 2009 the barge was used to transport regional purchases from Nchelenge in Zambia, across Lake Meroe to the Congolese port of Kilwa. There were three crossings a week which took five hours; the alternative route by road would have taken two weeks.
However, today the barge is no longer needed as roads have greatly improved. In addition, the economic downturn in the mineral industry means ample transport is available.
Abdou Dieng is pleased the barge will continue serving the Congolese people.
‘WFP has no further use for this barge and it gives me great pleasure that it will now play an important role in the economic development of this area. Transport is key to development and a barge this size will greatly help the people in this region.’
Kasenge is located 150 kilometres upstream from Lake Meroe. As the Luapula River forms the border between the DRC and Zambia, the barge will facilitate cross border commerce. The river and the lake are rich in fish, providing livelihoods for the communities bordering the river.