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UB SYNES Split Over Strike Action 

By Joe Dinga Pefok 

The Board Chairman of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Ltd, CNIC, Louis Claude Nyassa, has admitted in public that the shipyard is drowning in huge debts incurred by poor management.“I will be telling a lie if I say that there are no serious problems in the Cameroon Shipyard. In fact, there are many problems; the company is deep in debts. Also, because of the difficult financial situation the company is facing, there are times that salaries cannot be paid, and this has led to strikes by workers,” said the Board Chair.Though Nyassa did not disclose the amount the shipyard owes, some sources at the Finance Department of the company put the total amount of debts at over FCFA 50 billion. Nyassa said also that many customers have deserted the company consequently causing the company to suffer a big drop in revenue.The CNIC Board Chair made these statements during the installation ceremony of the new General Manager of the Cameroon Shipyard, Alfred Mbeng Forgwei, and the new Deputy General Manager of the company, Roland Maxime Aka’a Ndi’i. 

The Minister of Transport, Prof. Robert Nkili, presided at installation ceremony which took place at the headquarters of the company in Douala on May 8, 2014. The Board Chairman also complained that many of the Shipyard’s equipment and materials are old, and that the company has not been able to acquire any new equipment or materials. To make matters worse, many of the technicians that the company trained have left and are now working in rival companies. According to Nyassa, the biggest cause of the untold damages to the company in past few years has been poor management crisis. “Most of the time there were disputes between the Deputy General Manager and the General Manager,” said the Board Chair. He said he tried several times in vain, to put an end to the power tussle that often sparked off between the then Deputy General Manager (Antoine Bikoro Alo’o) and the two successive South Korean General Managers (Moon Kwi-Ho and Seoung Rok Yang). Despite the dire straits in which the shipyard is mired, Nyassa is optimistic that it will be back under full sail if some money is pumped into it. The Board Chairman hence appealed to Government for subvention to the shipyard. He also proposed that more workers should be laid off despite the fact that the shipyard is inadequately staffed following layoffs carried out by Antoine Bikoro Alo’o in 2008 and 2009.  Nyassa argued that the company should cut its workforce to match its low financial resources. It is worth noting that the workforce of the Cameroon Shipyard which stood at 2,400 in 2007 is barely 853 today.  

Shipyard As Headache

Prof. Nkili, in his speech, noted that since he became Minister of Transport in 2012, the Cameroon Shipyard has given him a lot of headache. Nkili said President Biya, worried by the declining state of the company, has resolved to put new men at its helm, with the appointments of a new General Manager and his Deputy. The Minister rejected the Board Chairman’s request to lay off more workers of the shipyard.“Mr. Chairman, in my capacity as head of the supervisory Ministry, I say no to any plan to layoff Cameroonians. Above all, the Head of State is strongly against the idea for any company to lay off a Cameroonian,” the Minister declared. Nkili argued that with the Limbe Shipyard Project, the mother company which is the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Ltd, ought to be talking about recruiting more workers and not about layoffs. He, however, suggested that at worst, the shipyard’s management and representatives of workers can discuss possible salary reduction.         

To the shipyard workers, Nkili called on them to consider the company as theirs. He urged the workers to avoid strikes, be more inclined to dialogue with management in tackling problems, and that that they should redouble their efforts at work. The Minister cautioned the workers to bear in mind that they are stakeholders in the company and that if it crumbles, they will lose their jobs.  Reacting to the Board Chairman’s plea for Government subvention, Nkili said the company that is already heavily indebted should scout for funds. He, nevertheless, intimated that Government will try to do something for the shipyard.As for the management crisis which caused a lot of damages to the shipyard, the Transport Minister minced no words that the General Manager is the boss, and that the Deputy General Manager has to act on his instruction.He advised that a Deputy General Manager should avoid the temptation to try to usurp the power of the General Manager. Meanwhile, the Fon of Nso, Sehm Mbinglo, led a delegation of Bui Fons to Douala for the installation ceremony of Mbeng Forgwei as the General Manager of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Ltd. Forgwei hails from Noni Subdivision, Bui Division in the Northwest Region. 

 

 

 

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