8 March 2018

Cameroon: Road Construction - Permanent Challenge

The provision of roads remains one of the most important facilities the population has often requested from government. Politicians are quite aware of this and have often worked towards satisfying the thirst of the population even if this satisfaction, most of the time, remains on paper.

The growing demand for roads, especially paved ones, with increasing insistence has certainly not left President Paul Biya indifferent. In one of his engagements announced in his New Year message to the nation, he stated inter alia that special attention will in 2018 be given to road infrastructure. " We will also maintain our resolve to implement our major projects, with a special focus on road infrastructure", he assured.

The appointment of Ndjodom Armand as Secretary of State to the Minister of Public Works in Charge of Roads, certainly tells of President Biya's commitment to put into practical implementation the tenets of his announced programme for the 2018 budgetary year.

In effect, the economic development of any nation can never be rendered concrete without the development of its road infrastructure. The choice of Ndjodom Armand, a native of the East Region, one of the Regions in the country whose road infrastructure leaves much to be desired is by no accident.

And since it is assumed that he who knows where the shoe pinches most is better placed to direct the cobbler where to put emphasis, expectations are certainly high not only from the people of his region but from inhabitants of other regions.

No region in Cameroon seems to be fully satisfied with the level of its road infrastructure in spite of government's effort in enhancing the sector. Even though it will be unthinkable to imagine that all roads in the country will be taken care of within one year, the ball remains in the camp of government.

The challenge, as it has often been, is identifying and stratifying the various road networks that require special attention in 2018. This, surely, must have already been done and presented in parliament during the just-ended budgetary session.

That notwithstanding, experience which is the best teacher, shows that execution of such projects has often been the hardest nut to crack.

President Paul Biya, in order to accelerate economic growth instituted a three-year Emergency Plan whose implementation started in 2015. This plan takes cognisance of the important role the road sector is expected to play as a major economic trigger.

As stated by the Prime Minister, Head of Government in parliament while presenting government's Economic, Financial, Social and Cultural Programme for 2018 Financial Year, construction works of the first five accessibility roads have started.

Worthy of note are: the Maroua-Bogo road, Soa-Esse-Awae road, Kumba-Ekondo Titi road, Douala-Bonepoupa and Bonepoupa;Yabassi stretch, and Mandjou-Akoka and Akoka-Batouri road. This is already a journey started and it must continue to the end.

This is what makes 2018, a year of challenges especially as it is the year at the end of which Cameroonians will expect a positive balance sheet for the emergency plan. The Head of State does not like negative balance sheets. The new Secretary of State in charge of roads must be aware of this.

He is surely aware that in addition to the urban roads, some of which are under repairs, notably in major towns, there is need to focus on rural roads which play an important role in agriculture development.

This will surely be a timely act and one that ties with the requirements of the time given that Cameroon and other countries of the Central African sub region had agreed to diversify their revenue sources by not concentrating so much on oil.

Agriculture seems to be an economic trump card. And this will not register any positive results without good roads. The rural population knows it takes quite a token to provide paved roads. That is why they are simply asking for the creation and maintenance of earth roads that can enable them evacuate their produce to the market.


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