By Yerima Kini Nsom
A protracted conflict between China First Highway Engineering Company Cameroon, CFHEC, and the Control Mission led by the SCET Tunisie/Louis Berger, is responsible for the delay in the construction of the Yaounde-Douala dual carriageway.
Both parties blew open their misunderstanding in front of Public Works Minister, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi on April 26.
The Minister had led a team of his collaborators to the project site at Lobo to assess the ongoing road construction work.
What officials of the companies hurled at each other were accusations and counter-accusations as to which outfit was stalling the work. The Chinese company responsible for the execution of the contract accused the Control Mission of being inefficient. In response, the Control Mission said they must ensure that quality work is done. The Chinese company equally accused the Control Mission of being slow, thereby delaying the road construction.
Officials of the Control Mission said they were working with six Engineers of the Higher School of Public Works in Yaounde. After listening to both parties, the Minister instructed the Control Mission to increase its personnel in order to do effective work.
During the working session, the slow pace in the execution of technical studies was also identified as one of the factors fuelling the delay. It was observed that, instead of doing technical studies at once, the enterprise concerned was doing it piecemeal.
“Feasibility and technical studies are done at once, and for the work to be executed,” one expert stated. He said conflicts ensuing from personal interest are part of the obstacles plaguing the road construction.
Villagers along the stretch of the road in Lobo in the Lekie Division of the Centre Region, had earlier blocked the work on the road, protesting the non-payment of their indemnities. They said government needed to compensate them for the destruction of property including farms, houses and shrines. It was only in March that Government paid out indemnities worth FCFA one billion.
The road construction project that was launched in October 2014, has only had 22 percent execution. The companies responsible for the execution of the project, say it has already consumed 38.5 percent of the five-year deadline.
From every indication, the deadline will not be met, given the various obstacles. Experts are observing that the current heavy rains will equally delay work. The Post learnt that when the itinerary of the dual carriageway road was identified, some unscrupulous government officials bought land around the area hoping to get huge sums of money for compensation when the time comes. That is why there has been pressure on those doing feasibility studies to divert the itinerary so that the road could pass through some of their plots.
After listening to opinions on the obstacles plaguing the smooth execution of the project, Minister Nganou Djoumessi urged all the parties involved in the road construction to hold coordination and synchronisation meetings every two weeks. According to him, such meetings will help them iron out their differences for the over all interest of the project.
While corroborating the Minister, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Works, Louis-Max Ayina, urged the companies to use good quality materials in executing the project.
Following an agreement, the then Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi signed with the then Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon, HE Wu Xing Wei, a few years back, the Exim Bank of China was engaged to bankroll the project to the tune of FCFA 241.2 billion.
The Government decided to construct the two-way lane, after the current Douala-Yaounde highway had become more or less a death trap. Hundreds of people die every year on the highway that is virtually a narrow stretch with very heavy traffic. Minister Djoumessi said the construction of the dual carriageway will not only spare Cameroonians the trouble of frequent deadly accidents, but will also bring many socio-economic benefits to the population.