The planned link bridge between Kinshasa and Brazzaville may no longer be a priority for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to officials familiar with the project.
DRC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning, Ms Elysée Munembwe, announced on Tuesday the project may be delayed as the government focuses on other urgent matters.
The revelations came even after feasibility studies were already completed and the work on the 1,757 metres-long road-and-rail bridge was scheduled to begin in August.
The project was to be undertaken with funding from the African Development Bank with which an agreement in principle had already been reached.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina confirmed earlier that the lender would finance the works.
The Republic of Congo (capital city Brazzaville), which shares the Congo River with the DRC (capital city Kinshasa) had also said it was amenable to the project, which would have eased traffic movement between the two cities.
On the DRC side, there was initial local resistance to the project, especially in the province of Kongo Central, whose local community saw the bridge in Kinshasa as a competing economic venture to a planned deep port in their locality.
On Tuesday, the DRC officials said there were certain “economic interests” to think of in implementing the project.
The officials said the bridge would bring people closer, but the country was first considering building a deep-water port in Banana and its road and rail links to Matadi.
Other projects given priority include the rehabilitation of the Matadi-Kinshasa railway line; the modernisation of the port of Matadi; and the construction of the Kinshasa-Ilebo railway line.
Kinshasa aims to attract financial inflows by building the deep-water port in Banana, in Kongo Central.