MADAGASCAR : ASSAULT ON THE RED ISLAND | France 5 | Les Routes de l'Impossible

The only thing that’s national about National Highway 5a is the name. That’s what they call the section of highway that links Ambilobe in the North-West of the Grande Ile to Vohemar in the North-East. It’s a hundred-mile-long trail they call the hell trail”. During the rainy season months of January and February, the road is difficult to travel. The trail then turns into a real survival course that usually takes two or three days, but can often take as long as two weeks. Ruts. Mud holes. In some places the road is too narrow to allow two trucks to pass. This is one of the reasons preventing the bus from taking this route. And yet it is the only road access to the vanilla coast on the edge of the Indian Ocean. A handicap for the whole of the North, one of the largest economic zones in the country, because the state of the road holds up the flow of vanilla and the numerous minerals in the region. The RN 5’s problems arise from a lack of maintenance. Over time it is getting worse and worse. The State seems to have forgotten this economic lifeline, further degraded by the huge trucks that carry goods: gaping holes, constant detours… The poor state of the road has repercussions for the life of the region. For example, in order to transport their fruit and vegetables, growers have to resort to boutres (boats) to be sure they can sell them in the capital.”