“This was the only way many people could reach the lake”
Since January, we’ve seen fences being built where people used to walk through to go swimming during the weekend. This wasn’t very problematic, as we could still go through. However, it started to become a real problem a few weeks ago when the military started to ban all passage, and threatened anyone who protested against the construction work. [Two journalists in Goma contacted by FRANCE 24 say they had been attacked by men guarding the construction sites they were filming].Construction has already begun. Photo by Magloire Paluku. Photo by Magloire Paluku.
This was the only place we could still pass through. From a touristic point of view, it’s a catastrophe, because access to the lake is now totally privatised. But the greater problem is that the decision affects the most disadvantaged: a lot of young unemployed people use lake water to wash the cars or motorbikes of more well-off people, particularly those from the Volcans neighbourhood.
These plots also gave people access to the lake during frequent water cuts [since the 2002 eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, the water distribution network has been severely damaged by the lava, and has not returned to normal function]. A lot of people from the Birere neighbourhood [a very poor area of Goma] went there to collect water during the cuts. Now, the closest access point is four kilometres away, near the port of Goma. It’s revolting that political decisions have been made without considering the consequences.
I signed the decree to compensate the soldiers and military officers who acted flawlessly during the war against the M23. This is not a public beach, because these were plots belonging to the North Kivu government, which has the right to decide what should be done with it. They were given away transparently and legally.
I invite people who want to take advantage of Lake Kivu to go to the official beaches located around the port or near the governor’s residence [Editor’s note: about four kilometres away from the Volcans neighbourhood].