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Tombel Council Nervous About Laterite Excarvation 

By Maxcel Fokwen

The prospect of benefitting from the exploitation of laterite by the Dangote Group for cement production has gotten Tombel Council, Kupe Muanenguba Division, Southwest Region, jittery rather than hopeful.

Officials have expressed worries that the Council is likely to miss out on a golden opportunity to improve its revenue situation following the imminent exploitation of laterite from the town by the Dangote Group, because of inaccessibility to documents related to a pending deal between Dangote and the Council.

Recently, the Tombel Council Mayor, Rose Ngassa Menone, declared that the Secretary General, Wilson Njume, has refused to forward the documents of the deal to her office for further appraisal.

The Mayor and her Councilors made the observation repeatedly Monday, May 5, during a session dedicated to the examination of the 2013 administrative and management accounts.

Ngassa Menone said perusing the documents before exploitation begins would enable the Council to negotiate and know the actual benefits the community will derive from the Dangote Group. She said that not handling the agreement well, will mean plunging the Council into more difficulty because local collections from the Council area keep decreasing by the day.

The Mayor cited revenue collected from the main gate into the municipality that has dropped from FCFA 150,000 a month to FCFA 50,000.

The Councilors’ anxiety follows preliminary contacts between Dangote Group, the Cameroon Government and Tombel Council aimed at granting the company authorisation to exploit lateritic soils to be used in the production of cement and other construction materials.

Reacting to the allegations, the Secretary General said all documents relating to Dangote Group have been forwarded to Yaounde pending response from the Ministry concerned. 

Despite pleas from some Councilors that the Council’s files should be checked, Njume insisted that there was no document linking the Council and Dangote Group.

The Divisional Officer for Tombe Subdivision, Ayuk Takor, recalled that the Mayor and the Secretary General are both talking about minutes and deliberations of a public hearing that Dangote Group once organised inTombel. 

Takor noted that the public hearing was meant to get the opinions of the Tombel populace on the portion of land Dangote Group has applied for.

According to Takor, all the files are at the level of the Ministry of Mines, pending action.

The SDO for Kupe Muanenguba, Handerson Ketong, disclosed that the Minister has signed a declaration for public utility about the portion of land in which Dangote expressed interest.

Ketong explained that the Council’s concern should be royalties and nothing else because Government is aware of the interest of the company. 

He said he would visit Dangote Group so that the Tombel population can get updates on the latest happenings.

The Mayor meanwhile revisited the accounts for 2013, and said the Council realised 62 percent of its budget, standing at over FCFA 295 million. 

Out of the amount, the Mayor said FCFA 220 million was spent in the management of the Council and the execution of community projects, some of which, according to her, are still ongoing.

At the end of the session, the Councilors moved a motion to establish the Tombel Council Internal Tenders Board, expected to help the Council executive improve on revenue collection by privatizing markets where there are no Council staff.

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