Presidency contemplated airlifting former minister’s corpse through the Besongabang airstrip before dropping unsafe” plan
The semblance of road maintenance on the grossly degraded stretch of road between Babadjou in the West Region and Bamenda in the North West Region is meant to ease traffic for mourners travelling to Mamfe in the South West Region for the funeral of the late Professor Peter Agbor Tabi, a source has told us.
The presidency is footing the bill of the patchwork for an undisclosed amount to alleviate the travel nightmares of dignitaries attending the funeral of the deceased Assistant Secretary General at the Presidency of The Republic, the usually reliable source said.
“The Presidency knows there will heavy traffic on that road and big men will be travelling for Agbor Tabi’s funeral, so a special disbursement was made for the hasty maintenance,” the source said. “The government even contemplated airlifting Agbor Tabi’s body to the Besongabang airstrip, but an inspection mission found it unfit for safe landing.”
Ongoing patchwork has nothing to do with the rehabilitation of Babadjou-Bamenda, part of the larger Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda overhaul announced last year, we learned.
Hundreds of people are expeted to travel to Mamfe for Tabi’s funeral. Mourners are advised on his funeral programme to preferably use the Yaounde-Bamenda-Mamfe itinerary.
The Kumba-Mamfe road, Tabi’s dream project since he first entered the government in 1994, is given as secondary resort. Portions of the road have been tarred, but some bad spots remain and “the authorities in Yaounde couldn’t even contemplate using it because it is too far-flung through Douala, while Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda-Mamfe is shorter and more realistic,” said our source.
For a couple of weeks now, roadmen and engineers of the Ministry of Public Works have been filling degraded portions of the road and potholes from Babadjou, just outside Mbouda, past Kombou in the West Region and into Santa in the North West, a distance of about two dozen kilometres.
That stretch has made road transport a nightmare for travellers to and from Bamenda.
Seeing laterite, not tar was being used in the road maintenance, some residents of Bamenda sensed foul play and cried foul, thinking it was a false start of the announced tarring.
“Brown soil used to rehabilitate tar,” a social media activist screamed on Facebook, with a picture of a heap of seawall on the road. Some degraded portions are receiving a coat of gravel, though without tar to compact it.
Angered by the poor state of the road, considered as acute government neglect, opposition SDF Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi stormed the tollgate run by the Ministry of Public Works at Santa at the entrance to Bamenda several months ago and chased away tollgate agents there. Tollgate gadgets were also knocked off. Collections at the station have never resumed.
In an August 2015 story, government-owned Cameroon Tribune reported the ministries of Public Works and Economy agreed to rehabilitate the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Bamenda road and received the backing of the World Bank and African Development Bank to the cost of nearly 120 billion FCFA.
But pending the complete funding for the project, the government resorted to take what it called “emergency rehabilitation” of the Ebebda-Bafoussam and Babadjou-Bamenda stretches at the cost of nearly two billion FCFA and expected to last 10 months.
Mag Company Ltd was allotted the Babadjou-Bamenda lot, but the present maintenance is neither the said emergency rehabilitation nor the earmarked overhaul with World Bank and AfDB funding.