We all arrived at the Kibali mine safely today after a staggered start, a border crossing from Uganda to the DRC and a total of 400km.
Mark, Charles, Paul and Rod left the Bwana Tembo lodge at 7.00am and Mike and Rolfe stayed behind to fix Rolfe’s bike. Paul earned a pink duct tape award whist still on the lodge road crossing a “hidden” railway line which crossed the road in front of him suddenly! Mike soon had Rolfe’s bike sorted and they too were on the road within an hour after us.
It was a great ride across the upper regions of Lake Albert and through the lush greenery of Central Africa. Lots of roadworks and even more speed humps – the Ugandans are certainly speed hump champions. In one section we went over more than twenty in a space of 2km!
We tested the reserve tanks by running the main tank to empty and Rob and Paul decided to have their own rally for a while as they failed to see that we had stopped at a petrol station for refuelling and shot past us getting to the border town Arua ahead of everyone. Anyway when we arrived in Arua, we soon located them and it was coffee and refreshments at the Golden Court Hotel whilst we waited for Rolfe and Mike.
When they were 20km out we started out to meet them, refuel and then to the border. It was a relatively painless experience with the officials on both sides being very helpful.
The Territorial Administrator for Aru was on the DRC side of the border to meet us with his entourage and we did not even have to stop on the DRC side. The passports and other paperwork were dealt with between the logistics team and administration and caught up with us through the day.
On the DRC side we were met with great fanfare and lots of motorbike riders from the community that accompanied us to our various engagements blowing their hooters!
We then met up with Jeanine, one of Randgold’s members, who has being doing great work with children and woman that have suffered under the various conflicts across the DRC. She was appointed by President Kabila with the authority of engaging and leading the education of soldiers, and receiving and dealing with cases of abuse and other conflict related impact on the woman and children of the DRC. One has to commend President Kabila for this initiative and by the way it is his birthday today so Happy Birthday Mr President.
We visited the INPP centre which is working to educate ex-combatants and also give people, impacted by the scourges of war, skills that will allow them to be economically active and take to place back in their communities. The skills training range from computer skills, sewing and dress making, mechanic’s and woodwork skills. Already the classes are full and the centre is now running additional classes on a shift roster! It’s a great initiative supported through a partnership comprising the DRC Presidency, our foundation - Nos Vies en Partage and the INPP. Another great initiative that we are able to support and will do into the future - Jeanine we are really proud of the work you are doing.
After the visit to the centre and handing out some well-deserved diplomas, off we set for the town of Doko and the Kibali mine. Mark was proud to be able to show off the 190km road that the Kibali team had built to join the mine with the rest of the world.
Despite the quality of the road Paul had another pink duct tape moment - two in one day - driving lessons for him on the rest day that’s for sure!
5km from the mine we were met by the community, management and local motor bikers (this time well behaved) to escort us into to the Durba community centre where we were spoilt with DRC and South African National anthems sung by the local orphanage choir - we also were welcomed by the Durba band, the Community Chairwoman and the deputy TA.
After formalities were drove our bikes to a special compound set aside for us by Hendrik, the mine engineering manager, so tomorrow the team can work on then and get them fully prepped for the next encounter which is rumoured not to be for sissies!!!
Tomorrow Mark has his day job to attend to and the rest of the BOYZ need to get things into shipshape for an early start on Monday!