Source UNJLC
Theme Overland Transport, Sea and Rivers Transport
Countries Democratic Republic of the Congo
Document type Other
Publication date 19/10/2005

Main ports in DRC

Major inland ports are Kinshasa, Mbandaka, Ilebo, Lisala, and Kisangani. The parastatal transport firm ONATRA (Office National des Transports) operates many river port facilities, barges, and shipyards, but there is competition in these areas from private and parastatal companies. Maintenance of inland navigation channels and enforcement of river port regulations is the responsibility of the Régie des Voies Fluviales (RVF).


Congo's only significant deepwater port is Matadi, on the Congo River estuary 90 miles from the Atlantic it lies at the farthest point navigable by oceangoing vessels.
However the channel is subject to tides and silting the Regie des Voies Maritimes (RVM) is responsible for dredging and marking.
Matadi, a port congested by geography is operated by ONATRA and is among the most expensive in Africa.
As the principal port with one of the largest harbours in Central Africa Matadi it is essential to the economy of the DRC and is linked to Kinshasa by rail.
Due to the DRC's economic and political troubles in the late 1980s and 1990s, trade through the port diminished and the condition of the facilities deteriorated.
The port of Matadi counts 1.600 m of quay and 7 stores including 3 with a floor, for a covered surface of 64.000 m². The platforms cover a surface of 115.000 m². These infrastructures are in a very bad condition. After having reached the record level of 1,6 million tons in 1986, tonnage forwarding by the port of Matadi decreased little by little.


Boma is a small port, situated in Bas Congo, a port and railhead; it exports tropical timber, bananas, cacao, and palm products, directly on the Atlantic coast. Yet the channel here has become hard to navigate, as dredging has not been carried out for years. Where once the river could be navigated by boats carrying up to 24,000 metric tons, now is the limit 7,000 to 8,000 metric tons of cargo due to the dangerous sand bars in the river.

The port of Boma counts 480 m of linear quay, with three stations offering with the acceptable draughts of 7,50 m, 7 m and 10 m. It has 6 stores for a covered surface of 9.700 m² and 20.000 m² of quay levels being able to be extended to 40.000/50.000 m². The situation of the infrastructures and the equipment of the port of Boma seems better than the port  of Matadi, but requires however a scheduled and in-depth maintenance. The Traffic of this port was approximately 43.600 T in 1995, against 66.700 T in 1990


The River Port of ILEBO: link of the national way going from Sakania-border to Matadi passing by Kinshasa, is an important point of transit for the mining products of the GECAMINES and agricultural products of the KASAI towards KINSHASA on the one hand and the manufactured goods of KINSHASA towards the KASAI, the KATANGA, the MANIEMA and the KIVU on the other hand. Illebo is connected by rail to Kananga and Lubumbashi
The port of Ilebo has a rated capacity of 2.000 T/day with three shifts. The quay is approximately 510 m long and is equipped with a frame container of 40 T, eight mobile cranes from 3 to 4 T and a fixed crane of 30 T.