Friday, January 25, 2013

Cameroon’s Reunification Golden Jubilee In Buea: Biya Could Postpone Event Proper If Projects Are Poorly Executed.

Construction Works Disturbingly slow; Governor to Arrest defaulting contractors
By Christopher Ambe

 Although the exact month this year for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cameroon's reunification is not yet known, it leaves not one in doubt that the golden jubilee will be celebrated this year-everything being equal.

 President Paul Biya, who is expected to chair the anniversary celebrations, hinted about the time frame in his New Year Message to the nation last December 31.

 “…I am pleased to announce that within the next few months, the right conditions should be in place for us to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Reunification with all due solemnity,” President Biya said.

The President‘s announcement immediately re-awakened both the Jubilee’s National Organizing Committee and the Southwest Regional Preparatory Commission. They swung into action and have since then been putting pressure on contractors and other concerned stakeholders to quickly implement projects earmarked for the celebrations. But it has been observed that the rate of execution is disturbingly slow. Could this be the lack of funds or inertia on the part of contractors? The reasons for the slow pace of project realization are unclear. 

But it should be noted that the State has budgeted about six billion Fcfa for projects earmarked for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Cameroon’s reunification in Buea

In fact, an inter-ministerial commission monitoring the execution of the jubilee projects was recently in Buea.Taken round by Southwest Governor Bernard Okala Bilai, the inter-ministerial commission visited the various project sites and gave March 31 as the deadline for all projects to be well executed. Then Governor Okalia Bilai, who is also the head of the regional preparatory commission, has since been threatening to arrest and detain contractors who are not doing their jobs according to prescriptions and expectations. His threats, The Recorder understands, is intended to make the contractors be time-and duty-conscious.
Generally speaking, work is progress but many people including officials in charge of supervision, think that it is at a snail pace. 

New Buea Council Office Near Completion
Should the jobs not be done or done well, political observers argue, it is the Buea Municipality that will be the Great Loser, by missing a golden opportunity to upgrade its infrastructure and social amenities. That justifies why Buea Mayor Mayor, Charles Mbella Moki, is doing his best-in terms of project execution within his competence and connections to ensure the event must become a huge success

When the jubilee ‘s Regional Preparatory Commission met last week to assess the level of project realization, they expressed shock and disbelief at the slow pace of execution of jobs by some contractors.

During that meeting it emerged that many of the earmarked road projects are still to be started, leaving Buea residents who are expecting well-done roads, with the fear that when the jobs will finally and hurriedly be done, they will not meet standards.
Up to the time of the last assessment meeting, no site had been chosen for the erection of the Reunification Monument

The Governor was particularly worried that the contract for the renovation of the Parliamentarian Flats (hotel) looked almost abandoned by the contractor, reportedly “no where to be found.” The Governor then ordered the Southwest Regional Delegate of Tourism and Leisure to hunt for him and bring latest one week. 

Another cause for concern was the Mile 4 (Limbe)-Sasse-Buea road under renovation.  Although the contract had long been awarded there were increasing complaints that the road was not only too narrow but was poorly being done “with a very tiny coat of bituminous concrete”, suggesting that it would not last long when completed, if not improved as suggested. 

The Regional  Supervisory Commission recommended that henceforth clean-up campaigns should become a weekly exercise  in Tiko ,which is the gateway to the South West), in Limbe and notably in Buea 

The irregular supply of portable water remains a serious problem in Buea especially in neighborhoods such as Bokwaongo. But the CDE, the water supply corporation is only making promises to resolve the problem before March 31, while residents travel long distances to fetch water. Buea too is increasingly facing the problem of electric power cuts, a problem that AES/SONEL must look into as a matter of urgency.

But all is not bad. At least, the Mayor of Buea, Charles Mbella Moki was hailed for his sustained campaign to keep the streets of the municipality clean   and his demolition exercise that is doing way with makeshift structures by the road sides from Mile 17 Motor Park to Buea Town.
Many political pundits think that if the stage is not set well-in terms of the realization of the earmarked projects, President Biya may further postpone the 50th anniversary celebration of Cameroon’s Reunification to next year especially when they recall that the Head of State said “…the right conditions should be in place for us to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Reunification with all due solemnity”
First Published in The Recorder Newspaper, Cameroon, of January 23, 2013

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