‘The State Stops at PK 12’ – i.e. 12
kilometres from the capital, Bangui.
The situation described by this statement, often heard in the Central
African Republic, seems to conform to the objectives of the currently
fashionable policies of decentralisation and structural adjustment –
example, to end ‘too much state’. However, the absence of the
in the rural areas of the CAR is so striking that the position in
certain respects has almost reached the level of caricature. It also
reflects the more general situation in other parts of the continent where
the excesses of a centralised, over-staffed post-colonial régime
coexist perfectly with the pronounced absence in the rural areas of
certain functions which are commonly supposed to be provided by the
state, including basic administration and justice, as well as social,
educational, and health services.