Congo–Ocean Railway

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The Congo–Ocean Railway (COR; French: Chemin de fer Congo-Océan, CFCO) links the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire (now in the Republic of Congo) with Brazzaville, a distance of 502 kilometres (312 mi). It bypasses the rapids on the lower Congo River; from Brazzaville river boats are able to ascend the Congo River and its major tributaries, including the Oubangui River to Bangui.

As of 2012 the railroad was regularly operating freight and passenger services along the length of the line despite the poor state of the track.[1] In 2012 a luxury passenger train, La Gazelle, using Korean manufactured passenger cars was introduced and as of 2014 it operated between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville every other day and was scheduled to take between 14 and 16 hours to complete the 502 kilometres (312 mi) journey.[2]

History[edit]

Mayumbe cutting, 1930
Forced labour family camp, located near Les Saras, during construction in 1930
Brazzaville station, 1932

Under French colonial administration, in 1921 they contracted Société de Construction des Batignolles to construct the railway using forced labour, recruited from what is now southern Chad and the Central African Republic. Like Spain and Portugal, France did not ratify the International Labour Organisation Forced Labour Convention of 1930, No. 29.[3] Disdain among the native population towards this conscripted labour and other forms of oppression lead to the Kongo-Wara rebellion in between 1928 and 1931. Through the period of construction until 1934 there was a continual heavy cost in human lives, with total deaths estimated in excess of 17,000 of the construction workers, from a combination of both industrial accidents and diseases including malaria.[4] In 1946, France ratified ILO No.29, in light of a permanent state of emergency, due to indigenous revolt.

In 1962, a branch was constructed to Mbinda near the border with Gabon, to connect with the COMILOG Cableway and thus carry manganese ore to Pointe-Noire. The Cableway closed in 1986 when neighbouring Gabon built its own railway to haul this traffic. The branch line remains active nonetheless.

The Congo–Ocean Railway was a user of the Golwé locomotive. Motive power is now provided by diesel locomotives.

From the start of the civil war in 1997, the line was closed for six years.[citation needed]

Present[edit]

COR a state-owned enterprise whose privatization was planned as part of the commitments made by the Congolese government to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Among the candidates were several consortia, including Congo-Rail (Bolloré Investments, Maersk, SNCF), and the South African consortium Sheltam Mvela.

Operations restarted in 2004, but in August 2007 BBC News reported that COR was in a "decrepit state, with the majority of trains now broken", after UNICEF had organised a train to distribute malaria nets.[5] In 2007, a Korean-led consortium CMKC Group signed a deal to build railway extensions to Ouesso and Djambala mainly for timber traffic.[6]

On 22 June 2010, a train of the Congo–Ocean Railroad was involved in a major incident, in which at least 60 people were killed. The train is believed to have derailed as it went round a curve in a remote area between Bilinga and Tchitondi, throwing four carriages into a ravine. The dead and wounded were taken to hospitals and morgues in Pointe-Noire.[7]

In 2011, it was announced that Africa Iron was close to concluding a 25-year ore transport deal with Congo–Ocean.[8]

In the media[edit]

In 2012 the Congo–Ocean Railway was featured in an episode of the television series Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways.[9]

Stations served[edit]

Congo–Ocean Railway
Chemin de fer Congo-Océan
Line length: 512 km / 318 mi
Track gauge: 1067 mm / 3 ft 6 in
512 km Brazzaville
Kikembo
Ngoma-Tse-Tse
Mayogongo
Kibouende
Ngabouloumou
Madza
Matoumbou
Loualou
Massembo-Loubaki
Missafou
Mindouli
Kingoyi
Kikembo
Loulombo
Kimbedi
Loutété
Bouansa
Kipambou-Kayes
Madingou
Kimbaouka
Bodissa
Nkayi
Moutela
Loudima
285 km Mbinda
(Comilog-Line)
0 km
 ? km
Mont Bélo
Moubotsi
Tao-Tao
 ? km
91 km
Loubomo (Dolisie)
Moukondo
Mvouti
Mpounga
Malemba
Les Saras
Mfoubou
Mvoungouti
Nzombo
Tsessi
Tsoumbou
Nemba
Nkougni
 ? km
0 km
Bilinga
Yanga
Mboukou
Makola
Hinda
Ntombo
Ngondji
0 km Pointe-Noire[10]
COMILOG-Line
Line length: 285 km / 177 mi
Track gauge: 1067 mm / 3 ft 6 in
285 km Mbinda
Ngongo
Mayoko
Tsinguidi
Mbaka
Vouka
Nzima
Moungoundou
Moutebe
Mossendjo
Boungoto
Massanga
Tsimba
Itsotso
Titi
Mabafi
Mahitoula
106 km PK 106
Boudanga
Makabana
Moukanga
Diesse
Sinda
Mouindi
Kibouba
512 km Brazzaville
Loutété
(Congo-Ocean)
0 km
Mont Bélo
0 km Pointe-Noire1 m[11]

Specifications[edit]

Railway links to adjacent countries[edit]

Maps[edit]

Cities served by rail[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • André Gide, Voyage au Congo (1926)
  • Albert Londres, Terre d'Ébène (1929)
  • Gilles Sautter, "Notes sur la construction du chemin de fer Congo-Océan (1921-1934)," Cahiers d'Études africaines 7:219-299 (1967)
  • Jane's World Railways 69/70, pages 542/543

External links[edit]