By Tapuka Gerald, October 26, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – The Minister of Transport, Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o came under fire after reports surfaced that he had ordered CAMRAIL prior to the Eseka incident to increase its wagons on the ill-fated train. But he has refuted all allegations that he was the one who ordered authorities of CAMRAIL to add more wagons to the already limping train. This came through an interview he granted to the French radio channel RFI after the accident.
In the interview, Mebe Ngo’o said the choice to add more wagons to the train could not have come from him since he is only the Minister of Transport and not the manager of CAMRAIL. He was categorical that, “the decision to add more wagons came from the authorities of CAMRAIL and not me.”
Prior to this, on the same Friday when the accident took place, Mebe Ngo’o was on 1 pm news over national radio where he admitted responsibility for the additional wagons. He clearly stated that, “faced with the high influx of people following the collapse of the tunnel between Douala and Yaoundé, I have asked CAMRAIL authorities to make available additional seats for the passengers.” In making this declaration, the Minister was also contesting earlier reports on social media that the train that left Yaoundé for Douala was derailed somewhere in Eseka. When the derailment was finally confirmed to be a fatal accident, Mebe Ngo’o went on the French media to vindicate himself of any responsibility.
In the morning of Friday, October 21, we note that thousands of people flooded the CAMRAIL train station in Yaoundé after it was confirmed that the road linking Yaounde and Doula had been cut into two owing to the collapse of a bridge around the village of Manyai. The Minister had as a result, ordered the railway authorities to make provisions for all the passengers present. Following the order, 7 additional wagons were added to the 9 regular ones making the brake system incapable of handling the weight of the entire freight so that about 1hr. into the journey, the train got into the fatal accident.
Mebe Ngo’o was moved from the Defense Ministry were under his reign some soldiers staged a major rampage in Yaoundé in 2015 demanding salary arrears following services rendered to the AU/UN mission in the Central Africa Republic. His transfer to the less influential Ministry of Transport was seen by many as a warning. Now, the worst has happened and many are already calling on him to apologize and honourably resign from government.