Rail for resources

By Richard High27 February 2008

The Congo has signed a deal with a Korean–led consortium to construct 1500 km of new railways and renovate an existing 500 km line in the Central African state.

Under the deal, the Congo–Malaysia–Korea Consortium (CMKC) railway construction consortium has exclusive rights to develop iron ore, oil, gas and forestry concessions in north and south–west Congo near the lines.

According to the report Transport Ministry officials declined to comment on the value of the contract but media reports have said it is worth more than US$ 3 billion. CMKC, which includes Korean Railroad Corporation (Korail) and a unit of Korean steelmaker POSCO, will operate the railways for a 30 year concession period. Construction is due to begin in 2009.

A 1000 km line will link the capital Brazzaville with Ouesso in the country's northwest, near Cameroon and a second route will link Djambala, in central Congo, to the Atlantic port of Pointe–Noire.

The consortium will also overhaul the existing Congo Ocean Railway Line (CFCO), built in 1934, which runs 515 km from the capital to Pointe-Noire.

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