(Business in Cameroon) - Since September 22, 2021, employees of the National Civil Engineering Equipment Depot (MATGENIE) have been, once again, protesting to request the payment of 13 months of salary arrears. The last time they demonstrated, they just placed a banner outside the depot. This time, however, they went a step further by forbidding access to MATGENIE for everyone. "We are now working outside. Yesterday [September 23], the director-general had to work at the Ministry of Public Works (Mintp)," said a MATGENIE employee well-informed about the case.
The employees are now expecting a decision from the Ministry of Public Works - the technical supervisor of the depot which has been facing financial problems for several years now. According to sources close to the case, for several months now, the Ministry was expected to transfer a total of XAF700 million to MATGENIE. "The depot’s management is expecting those funds to pay what it can to employees to at least allow them to prepare for the school year in September. However, the agreement transmitted to the Ministry of Public Works on July 12, 2021, was signed on September 22, 2021, the day the employees started the protest," a MATGENIE staff representative explains.
Besides the funds it has to transfer to MATGENIE, the Ministry of Public Works can also take a decision that would definitely save the depot from the problems it is facing for years now. Indeed, we learn, after a request submitted by the management of MATGENIE to the government, in early September 2021, Prime Minister Joseph Ngute instructed Minister of Public Works Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi to award two public contracts worth XAF70 billion to the public company.
The Prime Minister also asked Minister Nganou Djoumessi to elaborate a draft text (to be validated by the government) formalizing the allocation of a specific percentage of public construction contracts to MATGENIE. However, the Ministry of Public Works' decision is still awaited till now, a source indicates.
If validated, the decision to allocate a percentage of public construction contracts will be a real lifesaver for the state company, which is always short of cash and unable to execute some of its contracts due to financial problems. In addition to getting a strong footing for the depot in the very competitive construction market in Cameroon, this decision could save MATGENIE from those financial problems.
Brice R. Mbodiam