In the south, these roadblocks take several different forms.
Sometimes, residents have – slightly – repaired the roadway, and they want anyone passing through to pay for it. Even in the city of Bukavu, this happens frequently.
In the Ruzizi plains, I’ve seen underage boys setting up roadblocks. They have whips and rocks and they spend hours basically extorting anyone passing through. They don’t provide any justification. Some people think they belong to militias, but they don’t even have any firearms.
Finally, there are the military and police — with them, it’s very frequent. Around the city of Bukavu, in all directions, there are military men who ask for money if you are riding a motorcycle (at least 200 Congolese francs, or 16 euro cents) or in a car (at least 500 Congolese francs, or 40 euro cents). If you aren’t quick to pay, they will ask for your voter ID [Editor’s note: which acts as an identity card], and if you don’t have it, you’re out of luck. If you do have it, they’ll try to find another infraction. To avoid an unnecessary waste of time, you pay 500 Congolese francs, and off you go…