Guest post by Sandra Basgall, Catholic Relief Services Central Africa
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a bustling city of 8 to 10 million on the Congo River. Across the river lies the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville. This is the only place in the world where two capitals lie side by side.
From certain locations, you can see Brazzaville, just as large and busy as Kinshasa. There are no bridges connecting the two cities. Many people cross by speed boat and others on the overcrowded ferries. You need a visa to visit there.Many of the boulevards in Kinshasa are very wide, but traffic is heavy, and during rush hour, the buses and taxis race each other to get the next passenger. These yellow and blue vehicles defy description. Some of them look like vans or old delivery trucks with windows cut out of the sides. People hold the doors closed by just hanging on to them. They are full, full, full of people and remind me of the old ‘70s game of seeing how many people can fit into a Volkswagen!
Many look like they can barely move, but my colleagues tell me that just a month ago, the worst of them were taken off the road. I can barely imagine what they looked like as this bunch is so rag-a-tagged. We have been told not to use buses or taxis as they are not safe mechanically and you might get robbed. I have no desire to ride in one.