The first 40 kilometres (25 miles) of the controversial Trans-Gabon railway line have now been completed.
The first 40 kilometres (25 miles) of the controversial Trans-Gabon railway line have now been completed. When finished the rail link will open up the tiny west African country and allow the people to exploit its mineral and forest resources.
SYNOPSIS: Eventually the line will travel 900 kilometres (560 miles) and it's being built in three stages. At present construction work is halted because of the rainy season.
Most of the workers are from Cameroon or Pakistan and, until January, many of them will be constructing a factory which will build railway sleepers.
The first stage is expected to cost about 260 million U.S. dollars and finance for it has come from Common Market countries as well as numerous other sources, The project is the brain child of President Albert-Bernard Bongo. It has come under criticism because some say it's too expensive and will be of little benefit to the Gabonese people.
Work on the first stage should be finished next year when the development the valuable hardwood timber industry should begin. It will be several years before the line runs into Mekambo on the border with the Congo. But when it does, Gabon's uranium and manganese will be transported directly to the coast, instead of through the Congo.
President Bongo is convinced the line is vital to the country's future and will allow the people to rely less heavily oil resources.