Contractors working on the 52-kilometre stretch linking Bamenda and Babadjou have attributed the project’s slow execution to fuel scarcity, heavy rains, and insecurity in the North West Region.
They made the statements during an evaluation meeting with the Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, on Wednesday.
The first segment of the road project, a 17-kilometre stretch linking Babadjou and Matazem, has already been executed at 70 percent and will be completed by December, one of the contractors said.
Numerous separatist ghost towns and fuel scarcity were blamed for slowing down work on the road, along with torrential rains that have made work difficult during the past months.
According to Princely Anyangwe, project director for the Bamenda-Babadjou road, “concerning the first section, which is the 17-kilometer stretch from Babadjou to Matazem, as of date, the progress of work stands at 70% and the contractor is on good footing to complete these works by December 2023.”
Buns, a Cameroonian construction company, is executing the 17-kilometer stretch at the cost of FCFA 13.8 billion, according to Business in Cameroon.
Ignatius Nom, the project engineer for lots 1 and 2 of the Bamenda-Babadjou road, stated that they have been facing challenges due to fuel scarcity and frequent separatist lockdowns in the North West Region. A recent two-week lockdown made the movement of construction materials along the road difficult.
“The numerous ghost towns that we are having are really disturbing our work. There’s a problem with petroleum products; they are really scarce,” he said.
Fuel scarcity hit Cameroon this year after Nigeria scrapped its fuel subsidies and intensified checks on the amount of illicit fuel smuggled into Cameroon. The measure affected local fuel users and big companies that rely on Nigerian fuel.
“Due to the scarcity of petroleum products, it’s thanks to the intervention of the Minister of Public Works that they always give us priority when they are sharing the diesel. We have solved that. And then frequent ghost towns—that is another problem that has been disturbing us,” said Celestin Ndi Ngong, construction manager at Buns Company.
Minister Ngannou Djoumessi extended the deadline for the completion of the Bamenda-Babadjou road at the recent evaluation meeting. The road has been a nightmare for travellers for years now.
Construction works were launched on the dilapidated stretch in 2017 at the cost of FCFA 113 billion.
However, Sogea Satom, the contracting company, abandoned work in 2020 due to costly attacks from Ambazonia separatists. Buns won the contract last year, and they resumed work on the road. Work has been ongoing along the first segment of the road since then.
The government also states that it is actively working to rehabilitate other roads in the North West Region, including the Ring Road, which connects the Regional headquarters Bamenda to major towns in the region. The government has had the road on its agenda for years now.
The Ministry of Public Works has signed a partnership with UNVDA to rehabilitate about 43 kilometres of road linking rice production areas in the North West Region.
Francis Waidim, the Technical Director of UNVDA, informed CRTV that the government has signed a convention to rehabilitate the roads in Tubah Subdivision and Ndop this year.