In Gabon, a further step has been taken in a 'transformation' project intended to enhance the country's ability to make best use of its resources.
SV PAN train standing on platform, PAN TO crowd
SV President Albert-Bernard Bongo of Gabon waving to crowd
SV crowd looks at train
SV PAN President Bongo shaking hands with officials
CU sign on train 'N'Toum'
SV President Bongo seated on train, PAN TO other passengers (TWO SHOTS)
SV passengers on train
SV President Bongo on train
SV PAN countryside viewed from train, with new cutting for track
SV PAN train at platform
SV President Bongo leaves train and waves to crowd
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Background: In Gabon, a further step has been taken in a 'transformation' project intended to enhance the country's ability to make best use of its resources. The first stage of a new railway line has been opened by President Albert-Bernard Bongo.
SYNOPSIS: This is the first train in Gabon, apart from those transporting ore on a line between a manganese mine deep in the eastern section of the country and Pointe-Noire in the Congo. President Bongo was there for the inaugural journey 185 kilometres (115 miles) from Owendo on the coast to Ndjole. It was an occasion for celebration.
President Bongo's stable government is favourably disposed towards foreign enterprises and Gabon has been able to attract the investment required to build the line. Major contributions have come from the African Development Bank and the European Development Fund.
The government's plan is to eventually complete the line through the central timber region of the country to the iron, uranium and manganese mines in the east. At the outset finance was difficult to obtain, but France initiated the project by promising 12.5 million pound Sterling (25 million U.S. dollars) in grants and loans.
The estimated cost of the whole project was 110 million pounds Sterling (220 million U.S. dollars)
Many guests were passengers on the inaugural trip, but the line is primarily intended to boost Gabon's economic development. The country's rivers are insufficiently navigable and the roads inadequately usable in the rainy season to reliably contribute to the exploitation of the country's rich timber and mineral resources. This project also includes the development of two ports, for handling the commodities won from the interior and carried to the coast by rail.