Ten years after its launch, the Cité du Fleuve marks the failure of a high-end urban housing project.
The promoters of the Cité du Fleuve poject promised at its launch ten years ago a “haven of peace” away from the urban chaos of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Planned to be built on 25 sqkm of land reclaimed from the Congo River, the Project was touted to become the “Dubai of Kinshasa”. A Promotional video in 2015 hailed the project as the “most beautiful city in Africa”.
The project was initiated by Mukwa Investments, a company registered in the Bermuda tax haven, managed by the French National Robert Choudury.
Cité du Fleuve, which was at the forefront of the surge in high-end real estate fever ten years ago, is in a deplorable state with regular flooding during the rainy season. At the beginning of this year, abandoned uncompleted construction sites were surrounded by weeds. Frogs and toads splash around in rainwater-filled pools with bins overflowing to the delight of the seagulls.
In some apartments, traces of humidity are visible with moulds on the walls and ceiling. The complaints of the residents are in unison: “nothing is right here, even the water flowing in the taps is unfit for consumption, electricity costs are double the national tariffs and we can’t bear it any longer,”.
The president of the property managers’ trustee, Serge Kasanda, deplores the depreciation of the property. “Rents have dropped from $ 2,500 to $ 1,000 and even less.” A 56-year-old Congolese businessman recounts handover delays. “I bought an apartment for $185,000 dollars in November 2018 which should have been handed over to me by February 2019, but has not yet been handed over to me.”
The trustee sent a “memo” to the President of the Republic in February 2021 to denounce the water unfit for consumption, the problems of garbage disposal, estimating that it needed $ 50 million to repay debts, rehabilitate the site and buildings and develop new spaces by backfilling.
Buyers are demanding the arrest of French manager Robert Choudury, who they accuse is the cause of the predicaments. However, Robert Choudery refutes this claim, pointing to the delays in paying for the properties purchased by the buyers as one of the main cause of the problems of project.
At the end of 10 years, out of a total of 450 apartments, “only 15% of customers had paid the full amount immediately in the weeks following the signing of the contract. 65% of the buyers paid in six years instead of two years as agreed, and 20% of the buyers have defaulted says Choudery. “I lost four million dollars in the period of 10 years” to cover electricity supply accrued by the residents.
He however admits that there are “30 undelivered apartments, but 18 are in the process of being completed.” The businessman who took over the Cité du Fleuve from his Chinese partners has a similar project to the Cité du Fleuve in Lubumbashi, the economic capital of the country in the south-east.