The sprawling jungle nation, extending from the Western side of the Rwenzori Mountains to well nearly the Atlantic Ocean, again had bad press across the world over the weekend.
In the news, however, was not another air crash as one could well expect, but the sinking of a passenger ship on a remote section of the ‘Oubangui river’ which dragged nearly 50 victims down in to a wet grave while scores of others are still missing and also presumed dead. Only some 20 passengers are said to have survived the sinking of the vessel.
Safety of airlines is known to be poor in the country, alleged to be due to corrupt practices and lack of skills, but the safety of river and lake transportation is equally poorly regulated, with many boats and ships not ‘sea worthy’, likely not insured at all or at best not adequately insured and not carrying life boats, rafts or life vests. Crews are also said to be notoriously ignorant of load limits, first aid measures, leave alone aware or trained in evacuation procedures and in supporting rescue efforts in case of an accident. The present accident is attributed to overloading and poor navigation before the accident occurred some time last night.
For visitors to the Congo DR, therefore, the only possible advice is be very very careful whom you fly with, and probably even more careful when using boats, ships or vehicles.