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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

CONGO: Road traffic in Pool Region resumes

BRAZZAVILLE, 13 June 2003 (IRIN) - The resumption of road traffic in the Pool Region of the Republic of Congo (ROC), following the signing of a peace agreement between the government and "Ninja" rebels, has brought markets in the capital, Brazzaville, back to life, businesspeople have told IRIN.

"Since the lorry companies which operate in Pool organised to restart their operations, the atmosphere in the markets is as it used to be in the old days," Felix Oumba, a market vendor at the large Bourreau market in Brazzaville, told IRIN on Thursday.

The vendors said commercial traffic had restarted on two main routes: the Mbandza-Ndounga axis as far as Voka, Boko and Louingui, and National Route No.1, serving villages in the districts of Loumou and Kinkala. They said small business people and consumers were benefitting the most.

"Since road traffic started again, consumers are the most spoilt," said Jean De Dieu Mbaki, a market administrator in Brazzaville. "The abundance of food produce on the market has led to an automatic reduction in prices."

The improved situation in Pool is a result of a peace agreement signed on 17 March between the government and "Ninja" rebels of Rev Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi, which ended a year of hostilities.

Lorry drivers said that police had initially been demanding bribes from drivers leaving Brazzaville, but had now become "almost inoffensive."

"Today, police looking for Ninjas in the traffic jams are almost inoffensive," one driver told IRIN. "They only really bother you when they are hungry."

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict



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