Road Projects: Rigour Absolutely Needed!

Roads in Cameroon are not in the best of shapes and the manner of executing related projects does not augur well for a country dreaming of attaining a middle-income economy status in a dozen years from now. From North to South and East to West, complaints are almost the same: Roads are bad! Even those that had been lucky to receive a code of tar in the past are decaying at an almost geometric proportion. Within and without urban areas, potholes are commonplace with some having indescribable depths. These are serious calls for worry! 
In the midst of the uncomfortable road outlook, government has been multiplying efforts to salvage the situation. This is evident in the size of the annual package allocated for road construction and maintenance in State budgets year in year out with wide-ranging projects spread across the country. National, transnational and rural roads are the talk of the day in the country with so much funds pumped in, most often borrowed, to keep them in fine form. It is an open secret that infrastructure constitute the base of any economy that desires to boom.  More so road infrastructure development that has the propensity to stimulate the volume of trade, open up new markets, induce new industries and thereby invariably influencing the patterns of trade. Road development may also reflect improvements in inter-city transportation, which are likely to affect the diversification or specialisation of cities. 
Based on the popular saying that, “where a road passes, development follows,” it is no news therefore that the creation and development of the transport road network has an important role to play in the economic development of a country. For, any kilometre of paved road existing in a country is often used as an indicator to analyse the extent of its development and the proper progress of the transport networks not only reduces the cost of transportation, both in terms of money and time, but also helps in the integration of various regions within the country and the better understanding of neighbouring countries at the international level. In fact, roads are crucial socio-economic growth gears that no country can afford to neglect!
Why then is it proving difficult to develop Cameroonian roads when all and sundry know so well how much they will boost the national economy? Why the laxity in executing road projects to a point where deadlines are hardly met and contracts increasingly being cancelled. Rhetorical questions given that answers are not readily available or convincingly even! 
A few days ago, Public Works Minister who is government’s civil engineer, was heard complaining bitterly about delays in the execution of the 54-km Foumban-Koupa Matapit road linking the West and the North West Regions. It is reported that the cost of the project, FCFA 43.7 billion, for which the direct agreement contract was signed in 2018 following an extension of the deadline, was supposed to be completed by the end of this year. Regrettably, only 31.46% of the work has been completed. The worse thing is that as the construction work delays, the population pays the price as transport fare on the Bangourain-Foumban stretch, for example, has risen from FCFA 1,000 to 2,000 given the sorry state of the road. The situation on that particular stretch applies to most projects across the country. The National Road Fund is currently touring the regions and reports from their missions speak of laxity in road projects. Observably, it is a national malaise requiring robust saving measures. 
In the midst of the delays, government technical ministries are sometimes forced to cancel the contract and retake the award process from scratch. It goes without saying that when such happens, time and money are wasted and the burden of the beneficiary population increases.  Just last week, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development sounded bewildered when she went assessing rehabilitation works on a number of secondary roads in the capital city. Like almost all dwellers, the Minister certainly went back with the conclusion that Yaounde roads are bad, they are deteriorating and urgent measures are absolutely needed to salvage them from complete decay. Pothole-filling works are ongoing in some axis to better the situation. Clearly, these are cosmetic solutions to deep-rooted road problems that leave no area of the country indifferent. The magnitude might not be the same everywhere but the country has to redouble efforts to align its road infrastructure with the development vision. No country in the world eve...



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