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  • Writer's pictureWhat is Happening in Congo?

Matadi-Kibala Market- The Tragedy That Was Bound to Happen

On Wednesday, February 2, 2022, twenty-six Congolese nationals tragically lost their lives at the Matadi Kibala Marche located in Mon Ngafula, Kinshasa. On September 1, 2020 Gentiny Ngobila, Governor of Kinshasa, promised to laid the first brick for the construction of a new and improved market at this location. The undertaking of this project was to cost $5,044,631usd. The project was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through a program called Programme d’Aménagement des Pôles d’Approvisionnement de Kinshasa en Produits Vivriers et Maraichers (PAPAKIN). The Governor of Kinshasa promised a modern market for sellers and consumers that would provide cold fridges for the conservation of goods as well as banks amongst many other things. This market was to uphold all sanitary and security regulations and be able to welcome up to 1300 people. Although the proposed plan was exemplary, it never came to fruition.

Model of the construction project of the Matadi Kibala Market

Fast forward almost two years later, tragedy strikes at the Matadi market that has seen no changes since the first brick was laid. When Mr. Ngobila was asked in 2021 why construction had stalled, he went on to blame members of the Mobutu family, stating that they opposed the erection of the market, in addition to judiciary hurdles. Fast forward almost another year, when questioned again about the state of the Matadi Kibala Market, Mr. Ngobila deflected and proceeded to state that the women of the market refused to sell inside the proposed "safe" section of the market in order to receive maximum visibility as they sold their goods. Although he attempted to politic his way out of responsibility, he never gave clear answers as to why he should not be held responsible for failing to deliver on is public service promises. Between this presidentially approved governor and the deplorable state of the SNEL (National Society of Electricity), who should be held responsible, who should step up, Mother Nature?

"A lightning strike severed a live cable"

The spokesman for the Kinshasa provincial government, Charles Mbutamuntu reported after the incidence "The cable snapped and the live end of it fell into a ditch that was filled with water after morning rain. At present, 26 people have died from electrocution. he went on to state "most of the people killed were traders and customers, and some passers-by. The bodies are being taken to the morgue and an investigation has been opened to establish responsibility." SNEL the was forced to release a press release and held nature responsible, stating, "A lightning strike severed a live cable". Again, a lot of words have been said but none of the words offering any sense of accountability. An official at SNEL went on to say "the law prohibits building or setting up under high voltage lines, but the land ministry had illegally issued permits covering these spaces regardless". Again, absolving themselves of any responsibility, completely disregarding the fact that it is SNEL's responsibility to regulate and maintain electrical cables throughout Congolese provinces and they failed to do at this specific location.

In addition to the electrical failures, it is important to note that the city's drainage systems fall short. With colonial-era style drainage systems, Kinshasa is subjected to extreme flooding during the rainy season. During an interview, Christelle Zindo, a trader at the Matadi Kibala market shared, "Every time there's a drop of rain, the water doesn't drain away overflows onto the market because the ditch is blocked, and all the traders have to work with their feet in the water." Zindo digressed by saying "total indifference of the authorities". The population is tired of asking for humane living conditions. The market should have never been filled with water from the inadequate drainage system.

"total indifference of the authorities"

The catastrophe that occurred at the Matadi Kibala Market highlights the ineptitudes of the Congolese officials at every level of governance, starting with the head of state. Like the saying goes, "leadership starts at the top". There needs to be a critical analysis of how the current president, Felix Tshisekedi, has yet to effectively influence substantial changes in how things are conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These officials move at the beat of their own drums and Congolese lives are in turn the collateral damage. Twenty-six Congolese nationals were unable to return home after being subjected to preventable, deplorable conditions, in order to provide for their families. As the world and those who are culpable move past another tragedy, it is important for everyone to remember what happened at the Matadi Kibala Market as well as honour the victims and this senseless loss of life. Unfortunately, the lives lost have been reduced to the number twenty-six with no publication making an effort to provide the name of the victims; L. Masumbuko, B. Matondo, F. Sunda, Marie and her unborn child. Mr. Nsukami lost his wife and sister, Philo and Antho. These are just a few names available to the public. To all the victims and their families we pray for peace and solace as they navigate this senseless occurrence.

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Feb 11, 2022

this is a lack of a strong government intitution for such situation

the country is not inthe hands of people whom to trust at all the kongo is a total chaos and we believe that there is compentency in such authority at all if such things happen of cause our land is in the hands of people who lack knowledhe to govern and who doesn't care about people so in such situation our people suffer a lots for such careless attitude but what we are waiting is how come a so-called government can expose many people in place of danger like that even let us organise to create a better sociaty which care about people so that in thenesr future…

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