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Rehabilitated Ekombe Bonji-Koto Road Impacts On Community 

By Olive Ejang Ngoh

The rehabilitated Ekombe Bonji-Koto Barombi road seems to be paying off just a month after inauguration. In a surprise visit recently along the 22 km stretch of road the Engineer in charge of Rural Roads, Claude Patrice Dikoume, in the Ministry of Public Works attempted to evaluate the benefits of the newly rehabilitated road on the local community.

In separate interviews carried out with the road maintenance committees, chiefs and road users, Dikoume wanted to know what has happened to the farming population since the road was inaugurated. He equally wanted to find out if their objectives have been met namely; to disenclave the area, reduce poverty and accessibility to the market. In Bai Manya, the President of the umbrella Road Maintenance Committee of the nine villages, Barnabas Tiku, said the road has affected positively the lives of the people.

He said at first, the transportation fare from Bai Manya to Kumba (10km) was FCFA 2000, with difficulties to reach various destinations. But now with rehabilitated road, the fare has been slashed down to FCFA 500. He said more vehicles now ply the road and several youth have found gainful employment as commercial motorcyclists (benskins).

Besides, Tiku said the prices of goods and services have dropped drastically within the villages. He said a litre of kerosene that used to cost FCFA 700, now sells for FCFA 500. He said though the standard of living seems to be improving, much still needs to be done in the domain of cocoa, especially the price. For Esther Tah, a resident of the area, they have experienced an explosion of buyers from all over the county.

She said at first they declared several food and cash crops "not for sale," as they got rotten to their amazement. Tah was happy that the rehabilitated road has brought much glory as their per capital income has increased. She promised, they would continuously maintain the road in order not to return to the days of suffering.

However, some committee members said they face some difficulties with the light equipment given them, with the absence of a manual compactor (roller) for slopes. They equally said they have some hitches managing the small funds allotted to them for maintenance work as some chiefs want part of the money. South West Development Authority, SOWEDA’s Road Infrastructure Engineer, Stephen Ashu, cautioned that the money for maintenance work is strictly for the road.

He said the committee members should seek for ways to collaborate with their chiefs for effective community work on the road. He further told them to legalize their committees in order to attract external funding for the continuous maintenance of the road.The engineer advised the committees to transparently manage funds and be accountable to the general population for collective work.

He assured that if they manage their road well, they would attract the RUMPI Project for further rehabilitation work. Meme Divisional Delegate for Public Works, Stephen Teshounkong Asabakeng, also cautioned the committee members to strictly follow their action plan. He told them to put placards on the road to indicate the various portions of work for each village.The road project from the Ministry of Public Works was executed by SOWEDA.

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