Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

17 July 2014

Cameroon: Kribi Deep Seaport's Embellishing Works

Kribi has been transformed into a vast construction site with target to give it an image of an industrial town.

The sea-side resort town of Kribi is gradually getting a facelift to align with modernity to be brought in by the Industrial Port Complex whose first phase is near completion. Almost all parts of the town are witnessing changes with the urban pathway and main streets revamped.

While the urban roads are undergoing rehabilitation works to render them bigger for fluid traffic when the port fully goes operational, haphazard structures have been cleared off the streets and embellishing works ongoing to give the streets the face of an industrial town.

According to the Secretary General at the Kribi City Council, Medjo Assaka Jacob, the embellishing works either in the central town or in the peripheries are in line with the urbanization master plan which seeks to give Kribi a facelift by 2025. He said the Kribi municipalities could not be indifferent to evolutions in the Division notably the already constructed Kribi Gas Fired Plant and the ongoing Deep Seaport which in itself is an industrial complex.

The works in town, the Secretary General noted, are being undertaken thanks to collaboration between the Kribi municipalities and the Operational Department of the Kribi Deep Seaport Project. It consists in aligning buildings to give a uniform architecture to the city. Right from the entrance of the town through major streets like Ngoye-Nkolbiteng business centre, the roads are being enlarged and bridges constructed. Razel Cameroun that is working on the first section of the access road to the Kribi Deep Seaport site is also the company selected to carry out the refurbishing works.

Its machines are working relentlessly to enlarge the roads at least five metres wide and to construct befitting bridges. Students on holidays have also been recruited to clear the streets and clean the gutters. While the roads are taking a new shape, the streets are still being cleared of debris following vast demolitions of haphazard structures about a month ago. And this is the price the population is paying for the modernity of the city.

"My small provision store I had besides the road has been destroyed. Although am suffering now, I know the changes our authorities want to bring are for our good in future," Michel Mekoula, a Kribi city dweller told Cameroon Tribune. Another city dweller, a call box operator, Nadine, said the demolitions were heartbreaking as they sent so many people out of business but "that is the price to pay for being in Kribi, an emerging industrial town."

The Divisional Officer for Ocean Division, Antoine Bissaga, said the good thing in all of the changes Kribi is witnessing is the change of mentality of its inhabitants. The population, he said, have been collaborating and most of them are already awake as to how the town will look in the nearest future and are thus preparing to embrace the modernity. Giant buildings are also cropping up in town to house the numerous people streaming in.

Cost of Living

Even before the full opeartionalisation of the port, Kribi is fast witnessing high cost of living right from lodging to feeding. With the few hotels and increasing influx of people, either for tourism or in relation to the projects, visitors need to pay higher for lodging. Without exaggerating, it is more and more difficult to get a modest hotel room in Kribi at FCFA 10,000.

As concerns feeding, fish is dominating and sold at the price of gold. Fishing is the main activity of the local population but paradoxically, fish is more expensive in Kribi than anywhere in the country. It is difficult if not impossible to get a small roasted fish in town at below FCFA 2,000. "Everything is expensive in Kribi now because everyone says the port is around the corner.

Prices of land have also increased as everyone now struggles to get a parcel in anticipation of what the town would look like with the port," a Kribi dweller, Teclaire, said. "Kribi does not have enough lodging infrastructure, its population has almost tripled and food is increasingly becoming expensive here because most of the food here comes from the West Region.

The demolitions in town caused a lot of prejudice to so many people who had invested and are forced to start all over again. It is good for the future but we would have loved to be given accompanying measures," Jean Jacques Biholong, a restaurant owner said. Like him, other city dwellers are readjusting so as not to be swept off by the evolution of the city.

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