In Katanga many people are waiting for a train named after a bird, the “Swallow”. More than 2000 people, three times the train’s capacity, are squeezing in the carriages. Conditions are precarious in the “Swallow”, which crosses the whole country in more than a week, stopping in several villages. But 1600km are difficult for this 50 year old bird. The rails aren’t well maintained, accidents are frequent and the journey is risky especially for those who choose to travel on the top of the train.
The way isn’t easier by car, by bike or on foot. Road 1, the longest road in the country is often unusable during rainy season. Some sellers have bicycles loaded with their goods, but it’s impossible to pedal in sand so they have to push them all the way through.
Travelling seems a real nightmare in RDC, but delays and breakdowns are a good thing for some, especially merchants who take advantage of the several stops to sell their products.