By Amindeh Blaise Atabong, October 19, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde -Government has backpedaled on an earlier decision to construct the Limbe Deep Seaport in Isonge as it was made known in 2013.
The new host site of the project is the seaside locality of Ngeme in Limbe II Sub-division, a communiqué issued at the end of the 48th board meeting of the National Ports Authority, NPA, disclosed.
According to the communiqué, NPA board members decided to relocate the seaport project to its initial side of Ngeme after critically examining several suggestions made by experts.
The project initially planned for Ngeme was transferred to Isonge in 2013 on grounds that payments for indemnities was going to cost the government much money. Moreover, the site in Ngeme is said to be narrow when compared with that in Isonge. Little is known about why the government has decided to return to the original site amidst the existence of the factors which guided their previous decision.
Analysts hold the decision of the NPA to keep on changing the site of the project is a tactic by government to delay the project which is highly anticipated. It should be noted the Limbe Deep Seaport, if finally constructed, will be the country’s first natural seaport for commercial use.
Though the new site of the project has been confirmed, the project is far from effectively kicking off.
In January last year, the then Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Emmanuel Nganou Ndjoumessi, announced that work on the Limbe Deep Seaport was going to begin in six months.
The former Economy Minister had claimed that the Korean partners to execute the project had taken the commitment to start work by July 2016, so as to make the port operational by 2016. However, construction work is yet to begin.
“It is good news for Cameroon to get the Limbe Deep Seaport operational soonest. Our Korean partners have assured us that this is possible and that in the next six months effective work on the ports will commence. The South West Region is the agriculture bread basket in the country and with a commercial port near this agriculture and oil production zone, we think this will be a big boost to our economy,” Nganou was quoted as vouching.
Feasibility studies for the construction of the Limbe Deep Seaport dates as far back as 2008, but the contract to execute the project was only signed five years later, precisely in 2013. Following a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013, the African Development Bank is to provide 170 million dollars, the Turkish Exim Bank, 106 million dollars, while the Korean ADFC Bank is to dole out 82 million.
The project is to be executed by Korean engineers working under the Limbe Port and Industrial Development Company, LIPID.
It is worth noting that the country has a 400km long coastline, though with only one functional commercial seaport. That of Kribi, whose first phase has already been completed is yet to go functional.
The lone operational seaport in Douala carries 99.85% of maritime traffic in Cameroon. Officials said last year they were 11,302,101 tones as against 10,852, 563 the previous year.
Experts hold the Limbe Deep Seaport has the capacity to boost the country’s tourism sector, reduce unemployment, establish strong and mutually beneficial maritime trade with neighboring Nigeria as well as ease transport cost to other neighboring countries, the construction of roads leading to the port and emerging auxiliary economic activities.