Congo starts building deep-water port near protected wetlands

Big and small manatee swim in blue water, animal news
Manatee with her baby, photo: Stamm Photo via Canva

President Felix Tshisekedi launched the construction of a deep-water port on Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The $1.2 billion project has drawn criticism for being built on the edge of protected wetlands.

Banana Port will border Congo’s Mangrove National Park, a nature reserve with various vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species.

The park is known for its mangrove forests, which provides protection for its endangered manatee population. The area is also home to hippos, crocodiles, snakes, antelopes, monkeys, fish and birds.

The port will process 322,000 containers per year, Congolese Minister of Industry Julien Paluku said on Twitter. Congo’s main port at Matadi is not deep enough to handle the larger vessels from Asia and Europe.

“This strategically important, multi-million-dollar project, is planned to be built on one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in DRC,” said Gabriel Bourdon-Fattal from Corruption watchdog Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF).

PPLAAF accused the government of negotiating the contract without a public tender, as required by Congolese law.

“It is inconceivable that President Tshisekedi will proceed with a project conceived in complete opacity, despite calls from civil society for a transparent process,” Bourdon-Fattal said.

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