Transport and Driving in Democratic Republic of Congo
An underdeveloped transport infrastructure, numerous safety concerns and the country’s vast size make getting around certain areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo extremely difficult. While getting around in cities can be done by road and a few, but limited, public transport options, travel between major cities is best done via air travel.
Public transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo
There are a number of bus services operating between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbouring countries, but due to numerous safety concerns, bus travel across the country is best avoided.
Buses and minibus taxis also operate in most towns and cities, but they’re often overcrowded and poorly maintained, so should be used with extreme caution.
Rail services are very infrequent and unreliable in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite some rail refurbishment projects by Chinese firms operating in the mining sector, there are very few passenger services.
With thousands of kilometres of navigable rivers, water transport is a popular means of getting around in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ferry services operate between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, which is located just across the Congo River. A safer and somewhat more pleasant option is to cross the river via speedboat.
Driving in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Due to insecurity and the poor conditions of the roads, driving in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not recommended. Conditions can be particularly dangerous during the rainy season from September to May. Expats living in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a corporate relocation often have a driver provided by their company. Most car rental companies will also lease vehicles with a driver provided.
A four-wheel drive vehicle is best if driving outside of the main cities, and driving at night should be avoided.
Roadblocks, both official and unofficial, are common and expats should ensure that they carry all the necessary documents when travelling around the Democratic Republic of Congo. Requests for bribes are not unusual and caution is advised when dealing with security officials.
Air travel in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Due to the country’s vast size, and for various safety reasons, it is best to fly between cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The two main airports in the country are Kinshasa International Airport (N’djili International Airport) and Lubumbashi International Airport.
A number of African and international airlines offer regular services to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and there are regular charter services operating within the country. However, Congolese air carriers have a dubious safety record and expats should choose their carrier carefully.