Flag of the Central African Republic

Railways in the

Central African Republic

Railway remains at Zinga
Railway remains in the depot at Zinga, photographed in 2012.

Some time during the 1920s, in what was then French Equatorial Africa, a 600mm gauge railway was opened between Zinga and Mongo, a distance of about 6km. It functioned as a portage route bypassing rapids on the Ubangi river. Following World War II, work began on a deep water channel allowing river traffic to avoid the rapids. This was completed in 1962, and the railway closed. Substantial remains can be seen, including buildings and Zinga and Mongo, and two derelict steam locomotives and rolling stock at Zinga. The line between the termini has been lifted, but portions of the route can be followed on the ground. The remains have been added to a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status.

A separate portage railway existed at Mobaye. However it was only a few hundred metres in length and it is believed that wagons were propelled by hand. It closed in the 1950s following the introduction of more powerful river boats capable of negotiating the rapids at that location.

A former rubber factory on the Lobaye River about 60km west of its confluence with the Ubangi is known to have had an extensive internal narrow gauge network, extending into the surrounding rubber plantations. The site is now completely overgrown but some scrap metal items of obvious railway origin, and believed to have come from the rubber factory, have been observed at a nearby derelict sawmill.

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Photo image by Thomas Kautzor from the International Steam Pages
Flag image from CIA World Factbook