The Ministry of Public Works has revealed that rehabilitation works along the Bamenda-Babadjou stretch are finally underway.
After some years where words and actions from authorities on the rehabilitation of the Bamenda-Babadjou road remained in two different worlds, fresh hopes looms in the hearts of some users as they begin to see an end to their nightmare.
After uncountable false starts, reports have it that a first coat of tar was laid on the road earlier this month. On the Babadjou-Matazem section (17 km), several hydraulic structures have already been prefabricated and are to be fitted this November. Sources at the Ministry of Public Works say competent teams are ensuring the quality of the asphalt gravel layer currently used.
The tarring of this first portion of the road is carried out by Cameroonian company Buns. During the monthly meeting pertaining to these construction works held on October 6, 2022, it was revealed that the execution rate is at 15.81%. The work is said to have been heavily impacted by the rains and a reported shortage of fuel.
Expectations remain high in a context where users have been begging for the execution of the project for years. Many a times, images and videos of passengers stranded for days on this stretch of road flooded the internet, provoking outrage.
Government has often branded insecurity as the main reason for the delay. Added to that, the World Bank executives conditioned the relaunch of construction works on the elaboration of a safety management plan. This was in November 2021, during a videoconference organised by Public Works Minister Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi with Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo and local executives of the Bretton Woods institution.
The safety guarantees required by the World Bank on this road, which opens out onto the Enugu (Nigeria)-Bamenda (Cameroon) corridor, apply mainly to the 17-kilometer Matazem-Bamenda axis abandoned by Sogea-Satom in early 2020 for safety reasons.
In 2017, the French company was contracted to renovate the Babadjou-Bamenda highway, which had deteriorated. In the month of September that same year, the company suspended works due to attacks on its equipment and threats on its staff by separatist fighters in the North West and South West regions battling for an independent State they call Ambazonia.
Few months later, the company resumed works after a slight improvement in the security situation. However, on January 14, 2020, it suspended works and withdrew from the site after a deadly attack.