MONUSCO rehabilitates major road in Beni to facilitate troops’ and local populations’ mobility.
As part of its mandate, the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) often carries out road rehabilitation works in its area of responsibility not only to facilitate troops’ movement, but also to allow civilians to access their fields and resume a normal life.
It is in this context that MONUSCO Indonesian military engineering company, deployed to Beni, has undertaken rehabilitation works on the Kasinga-Kididiwe road section in the eastern part of Beni territory. Kasinga-Mayongose-Kididiwe is an operational area where tracking operations against rebels of the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) are currently conducted jointly by MONUSCO and the Congolese national Army (FARDC).
Indonesian military engineers have been working hard to finalize rehabilitation work on this 6 km-long road section, which started on December 10 last year. The terrain is extremely difficult of access. In-between the palm and cashew trees as well as ravines forming this very dense equatorial forest, bulldozers are being used to cut down trees and clear up the road.
It should be recalled that the difficulties in accessing this road section have facilitated movements of illegal armed groups, in particular the ADF who have repeatedly attacked civilians in this region, forcing the army to ban populations from accessing their fields, for the sake of their protection.
The work is oftentimes carried out under military surveillance and sometimes with aerial reconnaissance support to guarantee the success of such endeavor. Currently, more than 4 kilometers of the road section out of 6 can be easily accessed. The work is scheduled to end by late February and to be officially handed over to the Congolese authorities.
"The road is now accessible; we are really happy and are thankful to MONUSCO," said two farmers whom we met on their way to the farms. “A few months ago, the road was inaccessible. Today, we can even see the FARDC moving on foot towards Kididiwe, which reassures us," they further said in Swahili.
It should be noted that the Indonesian peacekeepers do not work alone. MONUSCO has recruited around 30 young people from Beni and the surrounding area who are helping them to do the work. They are the ones who help prune and cut off unnecessary twigs and branches where the bulldozers cannot access. "We use machetes when necessary to cut the wood," said one of the young people. "We are really happy because with what we earn on a daily basis we can cater for our needs, i.e., we can buy soap, sugar and medicines for our families," he further indicated.
The young people even take advantage of the work done on the site by doing small businesses like selling the leftover wood, and especially the cashew tree, which they collect after completing a portion of work with the bulldozers. Gina Mbabungu is a tradeswoman whom we met bargaining the price of the wood with the young people. "I buy the leftover wood because of their price which I deem affordable ... I then sell them on the market. It is the very wood people use to build their houses, " she said.
MONUSCO has also taken over the rehabilitation work on the Mbau-Simulike-Kamango road section started by FARDC military engineering who repaired roughly 20 km of the road, from Mbau. But FARDC engineers were soon confronted with major challenges: difficult terrain and quality of their equipment, which could not help them carry through this work. That is why they turned to MONUSCO for assistance to carry through the work.
In Beni, Congolese authorities and the population have expressed gratitude to MONUSCO for participating in this major vital project likely to facilitate movement of people and goods and reduce insecurity.