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Business News of Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Source: cameroon-tribune.cm

Rehabilitation of Yaounde-Douala highway

If a disclosure by Public Works Minister is anything to hang on, then the Yaounde-Douala highway that has been a major headache to public authorities of recent could be rehabilitated in no distant future.

In effect, during his visit on November 23, 2015 to the site of a collapsed culvert between Edea and Pouma which led to the destruction of part of the huge-traffic highway, Minister Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi announced the rehabilitation of the road. Thousands, if not millions, of people who ply the road, some on daily basis, would certainly rejoice over the announcement.

Belatedly though, given the advanced state of degradation of the road, that it will be rehabilitated after all ignites hope that the many accidents, largely blamed on the bad state of the road, could be a thing of the past. The huge traffic on the road given its strategic nature of facilitating the movement of goods and persons between Cameroon and Chad and Cameroon and the Central African Republic, could be smoother.

Rehabilitating such a road therefore demands a lot of groundwork. A solid foundation absolutely needs to be laid to ensure that when the road is finally rehabilitated, the problems that necessitated the refurbishment would have been given long-term solutions. The full-scale rehabilitation that the Yaounde-Douala highway badly needs today passes through in-depth feasibility studies. The Ministry of Public Works is government’s engineer and should consequently fully use the powers conferred on it to do a thorough survey of how much the road has deteriorated so as to avoid cosmetic solutions that have been proposed for similar projects elsewhere in the country. The Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda stretch is a bad example that must not be copied, if we must pre-empt chaos. 

A comprehensive study will equally determine how much could be used to give users of the Yaounde-Douala highway a road worth the salt. First things must thus be done first so as not to fall in the trap of getting a paltry FCFA 27 billion to rehabilitate a road that needed as much as over FCFA 130 billion like was the case with the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda stretch. Even before the study is carried out which at term will determine the cost of the project, it wouldn’t require a fortune teller to conclude that huge sums of money will be required to give the Yaounde-Douala highway a facelift.

As such, once the amount would have been disclosed, stakeholders will need ample time to source for the financing. Given the financial challenges within and without the country and the limited financial resources amidst huge development needs, it would be better to get the funds handy before taking the rehabilitation works off the ground. With this, we would at least be sure that work will not be halted upon takeoff; that some parts will be out rightly rehabilitated, others given just the opportunity for their potholes to be filled or worse still some stretches scrapped of degraded tar and left in an earth form. Users of the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda road can tell the story better.

The announced rehabilitation also offers stakeholders in the country the opportunity to possibly widen the road and solve the nagging problem of narrowness whose nefarious effects have been telling over the years. The least of issues on the road will not also be the procurement strategies. Studies can come up with norms to be applied in the rehabilitation process but the choice of the contractor likewise the control firm would determine whether or not the best practices would be applied, at least to the letter.

Strategies are absolutely needed to avoid marrying a contractor and a control firm who would connive to feed fat on the yet-to-be sought resources against national interest which is getting the road in the best of forms within a reasonable period. Failure to do these will be synonymous with compromising the development lift a full-scale and efficient rehabilitation would have brought.  

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