BY NJINKENG MARTIN and Doh James Sonkey
The highway linking Kribi and Lolabe in the South Region has gone operational.
The inaugural ceremony of the first highway with an electronic tollgate system in Cameroon took place in Mbeka’a village, Ocean Division, South Region, on Friday, July29, 2022, and was officiated by the Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Njoumessi. He was accompanied by the Minister of Finance MINFI, Louis Paul Motaze.
Members of government, local administrators, technical and financial partners, economic operators, potential investors, traditional and religious authorities, pressmen and women, as well as elites and denizens of the South, warmly took part at the official opening of the first ever Public-Private Partnership highway project completed in Cameroon.
According to a technical document from the Ministry of Public Works, the Kribi-Lolabe highway is 385km long. Its cross section is a dual-carriageway infrastructure that can be extended to 2×3 lanes by a central reservation, with 4.94km of dual-carriageway connecting road. Its alignment starts from Mboro village and ends in Bilolo, Kribi II Sub-Division. This section is linked to the Port Authority of Kribi by a 1.24km long feeder road (with an additional extension of 775m in the port road network) and to the National Road N07, Edea-Kribi, via a 3.7 km long connecting road, starting from National Road N022( Yaounde-Olam-Kribi).
As part of a comprehensive programme to develop road infrastructure and highways manned by MINTP, Phase1 of the Edea-Kribi-Lolabe Highway is specifically intended at improving the competitiveness of the transport chain right from the Port Authority of Kribi,and making this industrial Port Centre attractive by connecting it both to large hinterland cities(Yaoundé,Bafoussam,Bamemda,Garoua…) and neighboringcountries(Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, CAR…), under best safety conditions, comfort and fluidity. It will also ease movements within the city of Kribi itself.
Going by the Public-Private Partnership signed on December30, 2020, the Kribi-Lolabe Highway project cost about FCFA 2.5 Billion; 85% of this funding being provided byExim Bank of China; 15% by the Cameroon government. The China Harboring Engineering Company (CHEC) Ltd took charge of the 15% funding of the government as well as the construction and equipment of various edifies to manage the said project. The CHEC Ltd therefore did the partial financing and carried out the construction of the said motorway. CHEC is also in charge of subsequent operation and maintenance of the said public structure.
Speaking from Kribi, the MINTP boss echoed that a new company has been created to maintain and exploit the said Highway project; the Kribi Highway Management Company. Toll gate fees of the highway will gradually range between 600-5600F, according to the categories of vehicles that passes across the operating modern Toll Booth. Exploitation of the highway by CHEC Ltd, according to PPP, will last for 31 (thirty one) years
According to the minister, related facilities were built within the framework of this project and this includes: 18 water points and connecting roads (22.6km), for the welfare of the local population. An awareness raising campaign on the importance and constraints of living close to this kind of infrastructure has also begun. FCFA 600 million has been given to 291 affected persons living along the tract of the said highway; FCFA500 million will be given to 45 others in the days ahead. Compensating gestures keeps unfolding.
Emmanuel Nganou Njoumessi expressed gratitude towards the local population for their patience and collaboration since the start of the said motorway project; to the local and administrative authorities for their diligence towards its realization.
An eloquent and passionate appraisal was equally channeled towards the Office of the Head of State, Paul Biya, for such realization, aimed at moving Cameroon towards a newly industrialized country.