Created: 11/19/1986

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Zaire's National Route; orthern Option?


Me expect that 2airian President Mobutu's concerns about his country's vulnerability to South African countersanctions may prompt hi* to request US aid to strengthen the Voie Nationalaire's internal rail/river system, during his visit to Washingtonecember. Zaire depends on the southern African transportation network toignificant portion of its mineral resources and to import supplies for its important Shaba region. If South Africa were to disrupt these existing transport patterns the VN would be unable to handle moremall portion of the traffic that now moves through South Africa. Alternate routes through adjacent states offer little promise. In consequence, current efforts to revive its economy would be badly hurt by the resulting loss of foreign exchange earnings.

Continued donor financing will be necessary just to maintain the existing capacity of the Voie Nationale. The VN is an inefficient system that suffers from outdated and poorly maintained equipment and infrastructurehortage of skilled manpower. Zaire has made some progress in improving portions of the system over theears, but rehabilitation of the rail lines, expansion of river ports, and management improvements are critical to any increase in the capacity of the system. Even with major investments, we doubt that the VN would be able to serve the needs of landlocked Frontline States. Expansion of VN capacity would, however, relieve pressures on the regional transport network and insure the continued transit of the majority of Zaire's mineral exports. [

Zaire's National Route: orthern Option?

The Transportation Challenge

Zaire depends on the railway network of neighboring countries toignificant portion of its mineral resources and to import much of mineral-rich Shaba province's industrial and consumer needs. Much of this flow moves through South Africa. In the event South African countersanctions or associated developments were to disrupt existing transport patterns, Zairian exports would have to compete with those of other southern African states for use of the region's limited transport facilities or else be channelled entirely onto the Voie Nationaleai"re's only major transport artery. Aboutercent of the country's mineral exports already move along the VN to Zaire's main seaport at Matadi, an equal amount travels the Shaba portion of the system to link with the "southern route* for export through Southnd the remainder exits through the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam (see chart). The VN, currently does not have the capacity to absorb moremall percentage of the potential additional traffic. I I

Zaire's recent efforts to join the Frontline States*" (FLS) and the Southern African Development Co-ordinationSADCC) reflect its concern over the affects of possible South African countersanctions on its ability to export minerals and to import goods necessary to maintain its domestic mineral industry.


he FLS countries are Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia.

ADCC is an alliance of nine black states established0 to maximize regional cooperation and reduce the countries' dependence on South Africa. These are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.



7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4


Minerals now provide an estimatedercent of Zaire'searnings. Zaire's current attempts to revivewould be badly hurt by the closure of the southernits cobalt could be air freighted, Zaire would be hardfind alternative routes that could absorb the otherthat now move through South Africa.

For the foreseeable future. Zaire's prospects for using alternative routes through adjacent states are poor. Large-scale investments and improvements in efficiency would be required to expand the capacity of the regional transport net to absorb the traffic that now exits through South Africa. IC this flow of goods could not move through the South African com roiled southern route, it would need to be apportioned among several of the six railnets in the region with access to the sea (see map at end of report). Insurgencies have closed two of these routes to regional use--the Benguela railroad to Lobito,nd the Limpopo railroad to Maputo, Mozambique. The Beira corridor throughshortest and potentially cheapestunderused because of mismanagement and deterioration; it is also subject to sabotage and insurgent attacks, as is the route to Nacaia in the northern portion of Mozambique. The Tanzanian rail system is plagued with operating and equipment problems, and like the road route through Tanzania, is ultimately constrained by the heavily congested port of Dar es Salaam. | |

Thus, improving the Voie Nationale, despite its current capacityuch more realistic option for Zaire. This extensive system, with its multiple rail and river interchanges, management problems, and maintenance difficulties, can now handle only aboutoercent of Zaire's import and export traffic. Costs are high, transit times are slew, and delays are frequent. Substantial international assistance has helped Zaire to make some progress in improving portions of the system over theears, but the government still lacks the funding to significantly increase the route's capacity. Despite the route's shortcomings, Zaire's policy at present is to export its goods through the Voie Nationaleriority basis, because use of the internal route conserves foreign exchange and is not constrained by political and security conditions in other countries.

Even with major investments, the Vole Nationale would not have the capacity to handle large flows from landlocked Frontline States. Continued investments however, should insure the uninterrupted export of the majority of Zaire's mineral production (assuming current levels) and relieve the remainder of the system of additional pressures emanating from Zaire. Should services on the Benguela railroad in Angola be restored, investment in Zaire's SNCZlinks the Benguela


route to ZambiaBe necessary Cor that route to be used.

Voie Nationale: The System

The Voie Nationale (VN)5 kilometer combined rail and river network that serves as Zaire's main transport corridor linking the country's Shaba region with its main seaport at Hatadi (see map). ons of mineral traffic move annually by rail from Shaba to the river port of Ilebo, by barge from Ilebo to Kinshasa, and by rail from Kinshasa to Matadi. In addition, the route handles0ons of general cargo andons .of petroleum annually as imports, together with unspecified amounts of raw materials' and agricultural products as exports. The VN is also an important artery for internal ccrr.-nerce. Large quantities of maize move from northern Shaba and Kasai provinces to southern Shaba and such goods as oil palm, forestry products, manioc and rice move downstream on the VN system.

Two major parastatals (state-owned companies) manage and maintain the system: the Office National des Transports (ONATRA) and Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer ZairoisNATRA manages transport services on the Zaire River and its tributaries, the railway between Matadi and Kinshasa, and most inland ports. The SNCZ operates the rail services In the southern and eastern portions of the country, and manages several ports including Kalemie and Ilebo. Two agencies that operate navigational aids on the country's waterways, Regie des Voies Fluviales (RVF) and Regie des Voies Maritimeslso have key roles in the Voie Nationale. Although these parastatal agencies still dominate the transport sector, the number of private operators in road, river, and air transport is increasing. Road transport, which has traditionally been handled by the private sector. Is very competitive around Kinshasa and actively vies with rail traffic in the Kinshasa-Matadi corridor. Private involvement in river traffic now accounts forercent of all river freight traffic.


VN's basic transport current transport demands, insufficient investment and resulted in an accumulation

infrastructure barely meets Zaire's Shortages of spare parts and maintenance over many years have of worn out, unreliable, and outmoded equipment and the deterioration of maintenance and repair facilities that translate into loss of capacity, poor*service, and high transport costs. Inappropriate decisions concerning tariffs and budget allocations have exacerbated these problems.

Current transit times'on the VNunsatisfactorily high.

fromncrease ove on the route Kinshasa andetter, but improvements

surface travelatadi is now approximan?Jyays, a L43 transit.times (see chart). Surface transport is slowed by handling delays at the ports of Ilebo and poor operating speeds on the SNCZ ransit times for containerized imports have been

ne past

little -facilities

tew years to improve

are also unusually high. Although ongoing at Kinshasa should increase traffic flows,

progress has been madeat Ilebo.

Lengthy transit times combine with long distances, low traffic densities, high fuel costs, old equipment, poor security, and poor productivity to make unit costs as well as total costs high. World Bank comparisons of transport costs for Gecamines copper on several export routes4 shows VN costs areercentercent higher per ton, respectively, than costs on the eastern and southern routes through Tanzania and South Africa. The VN remains the preferred route, however, because its use conserves foreign exchange. | |

now handle upillion tons annually onystem except the railway from Tenke to

K Army stuqy, porr capacity di waiam n

estimatedillion tons annually, but port capacities at Ilebo and Kinshasa remain below this figure, and we judge they could be potential future bottlenecks.

Current Development Projects

Zaire has lacked adequate funding to improve the system.

dismal at the and the lossL'SCZ, which was withdrawn

The situation has been

5RCZ, mainly because of poor management million Arab financing package for the when Zaire recognized Israel

the government of Zaire and outside donors


however, recognize the importance of the VN to iaires mic development and are now making its maintenance andolicy priority. The current Zairian public investment programeal share of aboutercent


the transport-which the VN plays the central ro Recent major rehabilitation projects should improveerformance somewhat.

Theare focused in part on improving

organization ana management and providing technicalimprovements in maintenance, rehabilitation,will result in increased capacity only if theyby management reforms. To date the mosthave taken place at ONATRA,lanningbeenodern management information)and the financial departmentdevelopment and reorganization have also takenRegie des Voies Fluviales and Regie des Voies Maritimes. Zaire's largest transport organization withseems to have the worst management problems. has taken steps to restructure the organization,quality and morale of its personnel, and improvecontrol and auditing, progress to date has Consequently,strategy

for the future focuses heavily on strengthening institutions and developing human resources in order to remove constraints in these areas. | j

Zaire has also recently made considerable investments to improve ports and river transport and to facilitate freight transfers between transport modes. Container terminals and improved cargo handling facilities have been built in Matadi, Kinshasa, and Ilebo, and SNCZ and ONATRA have purchased some flat wagons adapted to container traffic, but more barges and wagons are needed. The result has been improved throughput capacity and reduced delay times at these ports. | j


Continuing Needs

much remains to be donethe Vol* Rationale, The SNCZ and thetogether handledercent of thefreight traffic inoperating well belowcapacities. They continue to suffer from poorroadbed conditions, locomotive and wagon shortages, lackparts, deteriorating repair facilities,hortagetrained personnel. Faulty communicationsof traffic along heavily travelled portions of The two railway systems will remain major bottleneckscapacity for the near future,

Improvements in transshipment facilities at Ilebo are

necessary to expand its limited capacity and improve its freight handling capabilities. Further expansion of the container handling capacity at Ilebo would require completionuay, an extension of the rail lines, and additional cranes and storage areas for containerized cargo. In addition, an inland container terminal should be built at Lubumbashi, andoneneurs de Kinshasahould be improved to remove inefficiencies in movement of container vessels (see photos at end of report). I I

In our judgment, Zaire will remain dependent upon outside support to maintain and improve the Voie Nationale. The country's need for outside assistance will increase even further if the southern route were to be closed and the VN had to carry theons of mineral exports and the manufactured goods and food imports that now transit the South African route.

Plannedinvestments (see table),

nowever, tail sTiort of what is needed to completely rehabilitate the system.

expansion or tne existing that funding to maintain and moderately improve services is justifiable.

Up to now, decisions regarding benefits and costs ofin the VN have not taken into account theto Zaire of access to southern routes, but haveaccess to the cost-efficient South African heavy

investments for tne expansion or tne existing system are not cost effective, but existing

on past project funding needs, we judge that:

levels and assessments of system

Investments on the next five years will

ofillion over the probably be necessary to maintain


the system's capacity at current levels. some portions of the system might even realize modest capacity increases. such an investment level would provide for continued technical assistance and training, and for the maintenance, replacement and rehabilitation of existing river, rail and port equipment.

o investment levels in the range ofillion would be required to expand system capacity enough so that it could carry all of zaire's mineral exports and much of the imports that now arrive via the southern route. ajor expansion of capacity would require heavy investments in railway and port infrastructure and equipment as well as funding foraintenance and replacement of river transport equipment and continued technical assistance and training.

o investments in excess of roughlyillionneeded to remove entirely the existingand allow the vn to handle goodscountries. constructionaililebo andenormouslyeliminate the need to transship goodstwo river ports. electrification of thekamina to ilebo and kinshasa and matadi,key segments of the sncz arethat would be considered under such aprogram,

in contrast, any failure by zaire to secure continued support for maintaining and developing the vn would resulteterioration of the system and increase zaire's dependence on outside transport nets. ependence would be fraught with problems for zaire's economic security.

regional options

investments in the major alternative southern african transport routes could produce benefits to zaire, but only if threats to the security of these lines could be controlled, zairian relations with is neighbors were to remain stable, and inefficiencies on the other systems could be reduced.

zaire's only regional alternatives to south african transport routes are those through mozambique and tanzania. in the event that south africa should cut off or even slow access to its ports, we believe these alternate routes would quickly become overloaded. even if excess capacity were developed, zairian access to the routes would not be assured. zaireistory


of strained relations with its neighbors that has notby its recent efforts to join the FLS and SADCC;stance and its support for the National Union forindependence of Angola (UNITA) remain major points At the minimum, if countersanctions were imposedAfrica, we judge that Tanzania and Zambia would assurenational needs and those of historic FLS allies werethose of Zaire were considered.

Current efforts by the SADCC countries to upgrade their transport routes are not likely to affect significantly Pretoria's stranglehold in the near term. The southern African countries are now focusing their development efforts onilometer Beira corridor throughis currently underused because of insurgent attacks, mismanagement, and deterioration. The rail portion of the route currently handles lessons of non-Mozambican trade annually.


Tanzanian routes are ther functioning alternatives to the Beira corridor, but, '

wouldery limited solution to the shutdown ortransport routes. The Tazara pipeline and raiiroad,highway, and the Tanzania Railway Corporation lineto the main port at Dar es Salaam, which remainsbottleneck to system expansion. Current capacitytwo rail lines is estimatedillions tonsport is operating close to its estimated capacity oftons Asideajor

rehabilitation project at the port, Tanzania has attracted little donor support for the improvement of its transport sector because of the country's history of poor management of assistance funding and of its transport systems.

an increased interest

_ in reopening the major wMCWafd route, cnerailroad through Angola. The Benguela has been closed to regional traffic for most of the past decade because of the

insurgency by UNITA against the government of Luanda.


benguela railway


quadripartite megting dnoiiu. uig leauciA of zambia* zaire. angola, and mozambique, much of the discussion regarding alternate transportation networks focused on reopening7 kilometer

benguela route from the port of lobito, angola, to the zaire

border. |

prior to angolan independence, the 3enguelarimary carrier of mineral exports from zaire and zambia andillion tons of total traffic esult of subsequent deterioration, heavy investment would be required to reopen the railroad and upgrade the lobito port facilities. if the route is reopened, only part of its capacity would be available to zaire. nevertheless, zairian manganese production, which was stopped with closure of the benguela, could be resumed and zaire would receive additional benefits from the tariffs earned on zambian transit traffic.

us interests

s perspective, failure to maintain and expand the vn toreater percentage of zaire's mineral exports has potentially significant implications for the political and economic stability of zaire and. hence, the regional balance of power in southern africa. under mobutu, who generally speaking, hasood friend to the united states. zaire's government has remained reasonably stable. mobutu has been attempting to reform the zairlan economy and has expressed dissatisfaction with us aid levels. xn the event of countersanctions by south africa or. conversely, if neighboring states were to choose to shut off regional trade through south africa, zaire's economy would be badly damaged without an expanded voie nationale. even worse, surroundingof which view us interests lessuse access to their transportation systemsever to pressure mobutu to make policy changes that night undermine us influence in the region. although affairs have yet to reach this state, mobutu remains extremely anxious over his potential vulnerability and would actively welcome us technical id financial support to expand the route.



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