In less than two years, the government of Cameroon will spend a total of FCFA 12 billion to “refurbish” Mountain Hotel and Parliamentarian Flats, both in Buea, Southwest Region.
The two hotels were rehabilitated at the cost of FCFA 4 billion as part of innovations to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Cameroon commemorated on February 20, 2014. Now in preparation to host the 2016 Female African Cup of Nations, AFCON, the government has again pumped in FCFA 8 billion to rehabilitate the two hotels.
According to Business in Cameroon.com, government awarded the contracts to rehabilitate the two hotels to Gresceram International and the Somaf group.
Gresceram International won two contracts worth FCFA 5.6 billion for the rehabilitation of Buea Mountain Hotel. The company will work with two local companies and is expected to complete the work in seven months.
The contract of FCFA 2.5 billion was given to Somaf group for the rehabilitation and extension of Parliamentarian Flats. Work will be completed in 8 months. General opinion holds that by using FCFA 8 billion to refurbish hotels which were revamped barely two years ago, government is wasting funds that could have been used to construct more classic hotels and provide other basic social amenities to the population.
It would be recalled that before the idea of rehabilitating the two hotels for the 50th anniversary celebration of reunification, government had earmarked the construction of a new hotel in Buea for the event.
The new hotel project became so contentious that it was dropped after trees were felled, some terracing on the site done and stores for building materials erected. The new hotel was to be financed from the 2012 Public Investment Budget as per the projects logbook for the Southwest Region.
It was during the visit of the Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Belo Bouba Maigari, that the then Southwest Regional Delegate of Tourism and Leisure, Peter Pel Elangwe, pointed out that the Anglophone community and those of Buea in particular, would not forgive the government if the reunification celebration took place in Buea without the rehabilitation of Mountain Hotel, a historic site.
The Delegate said the refurbishment of the hotel was imperative, given its historic importance to reunification. According to Elangwe, it was in the hotel on September 30, 1961, that President Ahmadou Ahidjo, heralded the independence of West Cameroon and pronounced reunification.
Apparently pricked by Elangwe’s utterances, the then Secretary General in the Ministry of Tourism and the Assistant Director of Cabinet at the Presidency, Anderson Le, met Elangwe after the visit and asked for documented evidence to that effect.
When the Minister and his delegation returned to Yaounde, they decided to renovate the abandoned Mountain Hotel and discarded the idea of constructing a new hotel for the celebration of reunification. Meanwhile, with the coming of the 2016 female AFCONS, and Limbe being one of the host cities of the tournament, many people in the Southwest Region were hoping that a new hotel would be constructed this year. Instead, government has decided to sink FCFA 8 billion to “refurbish” new hotels.
“For over three decades of his stewardship, Paul Biya and his government have never initiated a project and completely executed it. He keeps renovating the old structures left behind by Ahidjo,” said Lazarus Kinge Moli, an inhabitant of Buea.