Construction work, which had practically been halted at the Limbe Shipyard site, has recommenced.
On Wednesday, March 6, the Minister of Transport, Professor Robert Nkili, was at the site for a brief visit to enable him assess what is currently going on since work on a quay wall began over a month ago. Nkili was received by the Task Force Manager for the site, Beck Baye, who led him round the site in the company of other top officials of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering Company Limited, (Chantier Naval).
At the landward end of the shipyard, bulldozers could be seen leveling the area while trucks ferried away loads of soils. Meantime, at another end, workers in helmets and overalls tinkered away with their tools doing all sorts of engineering work. The construction of the quay wall is being carried out by BAM International, a Dutch company, valued at some 29 million Euros (approximately FCFA 19.022 billion).
The work is expected to be completed by May, 2014. The quay wall will be some 320 metres long with an underwater concrete foundation. In 2007, Interbeton concluded the construction of a 700-meter long break water wall stretching deep into the sea. It was the first major construction works at the shipyard to shield the yard from strong waves where oil rigs could dock and undergo repairs.
The breakwater had been long concluded but the change of command at the helm of Chantier Naval in 2008 where Zaccheus Forjindam was replaced by Antoine Bikoro Alo’o led to one crisis after the other and work on the over FCFA 100-billion project slowed down to a near full stop. Baye Beck told the Minister that there were presently some 81 workers at the site with about eight expatriates to carry on with the quay wall construction. Meantime, Nkili, who began his Southwest visit in Tiko with a stop at the Tiko Port also visited the age-old Tiko Airstrip.
He is said to have noted with dissatisfaction the high level of encroachment on the airport land by people who have built on it. The Minister also visited the Idenau Port on that same Wednesday. On Thursday, he visited the Presbyterian Printing Press which does some major printing work for the Ministry of Transport. He also stopped at the Fako Divisional Delegation of Transport at Down Beach.
His trip in Limbe ended at the Delegation of the Merchant Marine Services where he was presented a plethora of problems plaguing this service. “When you look at those old speedboats there, each time my elements go to the high seas it is as if they are going on a suicide mission,” Jonathan Jikong told the Minister. The merchant marines are supposed to provide maritime security to those who do business by sea as well as carry out checks on the high seas to curb smuggling.
But Jikong told the Minister that his service was almost paralyzed owing to the sheer lack of the necessary equipment to do their work. He told the Minister that they don’t even have an office and are presently being housed in an office at the Down Beach area which he said floods whenever it rains heavily. Jikong added that they don’t even have a satellite communication network to link up with their elements when they drift far into the high seas.
In addition to the lack of speedboats, no communication links, Jikong said they were more or less left at the mercy of sea pirates. “That is why on most occasions we have to request assistance from the military before we go out,” he said. Minister Nkili instantly invited Jikong to meet him in Yaounde for further discussions.