Published On: Fri, Oct 30th, 2015

Bridge to enhance trade, end deaths between Cameroon and Chad

Logone River 1YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – A SHARP rise in drowning incidents at the Logone River, separating Cameroon and Chad, has prompted the two governments to intensify plans to construct a bridge over a river seen as one of West
Africa’s foremost death traps.

Ironically, the area is also seen as an underutilized despite its economic prospects.

The river separating the northern Cameroonian town of Yagoua and Bongor, south of neighbouring Chad, has claimed scores of lives over the years, with the numbers burgeoning in recent weeks.

The North region of Cameroon, particularly the Benue plain, has registered the highest number of casualties during the period.

In the wake of the mishaps, five years after the idea to build the facility was mooted, the two West African neighbours have begun feasibility studies for the construction of the facility over the 1 000-km long Logone River.

The two countries will require some 60 billion Central African Francs (about US$ 104 million) to construct the bridge linking Yagoua and Bongor.

Officials of the bilateral commission for the construction of the bridge are hopeful the project will, funds permitting, begin at the start of 2016.

“We hope to be through with feasibility studies by year end,” the co-chair of the bilateral committee and Secretary General in the Cameroon Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Gilbert Didier Edoa told CAJ News.

Experts from Cameroon and Chad are examining the partial findings of  studies carried out for the construction of the bridge over  the imposing river, whose sources are also located in the Western Central African Republic.

Edoa said after the exercise, which will cost some CFA 600 million, the two countries will then source funding to begin construction.

Edoa said the two countries had set 2018 as the target to complete the facility.

The construction of the 254-metre-long, 9-metre wide bridge will also entail the construction of a linkage road on both sides of the bridge, border police and custom posts as well as pedestrian pathways.

Locals are also pushing for the inclusion of additional infrastructure in the project.

“This is an arid region. We need the governments of Chad and Cameroon to also construct boreholes, dispensaries; schools as well as carry out reforestation programmes along the road,” the Lamido (traditional Islam
leader) of Yagoua, Litasso Makaini Makkadallah, said in an interview with this publication.

The plans to build a bridge was a culmination of the of the 22nd Grand Cameroon-Chad joint Commission that took place in Yaounde, the Cameroon capital city in 2010.

However there has been little progress between then and May last year when an agreement to establish the facility was reached and a month later when the bilateral committee for the construction of the bridge was put in place.

It has taken a series of drowning at the river, a glaring example of the need for the bridge to be constructed, to bring the project back on the agenda.

At the beginning of the month, a locally-made boat capsized as a result of violent winds resulting in the drowning of 11 of the 13 occupants from Cameroon, most of them women returning from the market in Bongor.

Cameroon’s Far North Regional Governor, Midjiyawa Bakary, said about 40 people had died in the area in similar circumstances over the last two months.

The Mayor of Yagoua, Fissou Kouma, told CAJ News more than 500 small boats travel between Yagoua and Bongor especially on market days, indicating the intensity of traffic the river handles.

“Many people travel on locally -made boats and these are really not reliable. So, on several occasions, we have had to extract corpses from under water.

“The boats almost always capsize especially when weather conditions are not so good,” Kouma said.

Apart from reducing incidents of drowning in the area, it is envisaged upon completion, the bridge will serve in facilitating transportation of people and goods between Cameroon and Chad, thereby enhancing trade.

“The bridge will intensify trade over a 1 000km distance along the common borders of Cameroon and Chad, and foster sub-regional integration” said the Deputy Secretary General of the Chadian Ministry of Transport,
Infrastructure and Civil Aviation, Brahim Tahir Abderaman.

Any further delays in its construction will thus culminate in further loss of life and hinder trade in the region.

CAJ News

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