(Business in Cameroon) - Securing the construction site amid Boko Haram threats stands as the primary challenge in the Mora-Kousseri road rehabilitation project, the Ministry of Public Work revealed in its annual road project review.
The review points out that because the project area has a high-risk security situation, contractors can only work on the sections if there is a security plan in place. Even though this plan works well, it costs about CFA46 million every month to keep it running.
Indeed, the rehabilitation of the Maroua-Kousseri road, which connects Cameroon to Chad and Nigeria, has faced numerous challenges, leading the World Bank to cancel its initial funding for the project before it could be completed. Delays are common in Cameroonian projects, and this roadwork has been particularly affected by insecurity caused by Boko Haram in the Far North region.
Construction began but was abruptly halted on May 16, 2014, due to a Boko Haram attack on the base camp of Sinohydro, the company responsible for the project. Attackers kidnapped 10 Chinese employees, who were later released after intense negotiations led by Cameroonian authorities.
Despite several promises to return to the construction site, Sinohydro finally withdrew from the project. To resume and safely carry out the work, the Cameroonian government, with the approval of the World Bank, entrusted the project to the military through the Military Engineering Corps. The project was set to be completed within 24 months. Work resumed in early March 2018 but advanced slowly until early 2020. During this period, the Military Engineering Corps brought in three subcontractors to speed up the work, particularly on the Mora-Dabanga-Kousseri section.
Despite the participation of PAC International, Millenium, and Sombti companies in the project, the work wasn't finished by the World Bank's deadline of June 30, 2020. The World Bank had provided funding for this project for the past 10 years and wanted to close its first line of credit.