The Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, has cancelled many road maintenance contracts awarded to three companies many years ago; Njimi Sarl, Africa Global Solution and Groupe PANI. The Minister cancelled all the road maintenance contracts that were awarded to these companies. Nganou Djoumessi annulled the contracts after he noticed that the contractors have been unable to execute them for many years.
The Minister’s decision is contained in a release he issued in Yaounde recently. The decision, The Post learnt, is predicated on the inability of the companies to do the road maintenance contracts for seven years, which is responsible for the current degradation of the country’s road network. Some 5,800 km supposed to be maintained and rehabilitated are in bad shape.
Nganou Djoumessi‘s axe is also looming over contracts that were awarded to 16 other companies. Such contracts will be cancelled if the companies do not show any signs of executing them within the time limit.
The Minister is monitoring many other contracts. The Minister’s sledgehammer fell after he held a consultation meeting with some enterprises in Yaounde recently from January 18 to 22, 2016, aimed at diagnosing all the problems ailing road maintenance in the country.
At the meeting, many companies did not give tangible reasons for not executing their contracts. The Minister said he would monitor them closely and would annul the contracts of companies that are not serious.
Many companies that had won the road maintenance contracts lack qualified personnel and standard equipment to do the job. It is in this perspective that the Minister called on all contract award watchdogs to go beyond scrutinising the documents and bring in other parameters to ensure that the contracts are awarded to enterprises that can execute them on time.
Statistics from the Ministry of Public Works reveal that of the 406 road maintenance contracts in the country, only 300 of them are in an acceptable state of execution.About 100 of such contracts are suffering undue delay in execution. Such contracts are expected to lead to the maintenance of 5,800 km of road network in the country.
The 5,800 km is only half of the road network that is in an advanced state of dilapidation. The better part of the country’s over 122,000 km road network is in bad shape. The earth roads are barely narrow, crooked stretches that are impassable during the rainy season.
The greater part of the 7000km of tarred roads that Cameroon boosts of is in poor state. Beyond Nganou Djoumessi’s enthusiasm to right the wrongs of road maintenance contracts, lie a plethora of corruption-related ills.
Critics hold that it is only when contracts award officials bend the rules for personal interest that unqualified contractors win certain bids. The Northwest Regional Delegate of Public Works, Denis Awoh Dang, told The Post that award of contracts remains a dicey situation because many enterprises that have been unable to do the job look very qualified on paper.
Yet, many observers in the Ministry of Public Works are still at a loss on how one of the companies that has to do with beauty and decoration won a road maintenance contract.
Critics have attributed such an unfortunate situation to bribery, influence-peddling and favouritism. The fraternity of corruption in the Ministry of Finance where some officials blackmail business people to pay certain percentages before their bills are paid is equally an impediment.
During the meeting with the Minister of Public Works, many contractors complained that the payment of bills in the Ministry was a big headache mired in undue delay and corruption. These issues point to the fact that no matter how steadfast he is, Nganou Djoumessi might not solve road maintenance problems alone. His colleagues of Finance and Public Contracts must be part of the solution.