Babadjou-Bamenda road: Challenges in execution and compensation
The road construction company, Societe BUNS has intensified work to rehabilitate the Bamenda – Babadjou road which is subject to very advanced deterioration. The 17 km Babadjou to Matazem stretch of road which is the first lot of the 52 km project, has an execution rate of 33% within 10 months of work. The 18 months project is expected to be completed by September 2023.
Professionals, such as engineers and surveyors as well as laborers from BUNS can be seen at the construction sites of Babadjou to Matazem (lot 1) and Matazem to Welcome to Bamenda (lot 2) day and night. Each with specific job descriptions to complete the physical construction. Cones have been installed, and signs and barricades placed to warn drivers and control the flow of traffic from one end of the road to another.
Laborers are seen acting as flag bearers to stop or direct traffic, clearing debris from the work site, using jackhammers to break up existing roadways, and tending equipment such as cement mixers or asphalt heaters. In addition, these workers lay whatever the construction projects need, such as pipes, drains, and pavements.
The rehabilitation follows the new strategy the Ministry of Public Works put in place to hasten the project’s realization. Nwainbi Paul Ayah, Northwest regional delegate of Public Works states that the stretch of road has been relocated into four lots.
In addition, Buns is rehabilitating Lot 2, the route from Matazem to Welcome to Bamenda which is 18.05 km long and work is expected to last 18 months. “We have been working on lot 2 for over 6 months now, with an execution rate of 15%. The contract is worth CFA21.52 billion and is expected to be completed by January 2024”, says BUNS’s representative.
The second company, Bofas, won the contract for Lot 3 which is worth CFA14.32 billion to renovate the Bamenda up-hill station Bypass road. The line is 4.9 km long and work is set to last 15 months.
This design according to the delegate will ensure the reconstruction of a sustainable road from Babadjou to Bamenda. “Designed to last at least 20 years, the material used for the reconstruction of lots one and two were carefully selected”, says a representative of BUNS adding that the two road structures have four layers – the platform course, the foundation course, the base course, and the running course.
Before the start of fieldwork, BUNS together with a technical team from the Ministry of public works carried out a technical study to select the right materials. “We have a control mission that works with the administration to approve any material before it is used. We are confident that the quality of material used will last for 20 years”, a BUNS representative concluded.
BUNS who won the rehabilitation contract for XAF13.8 billion, started work with a survey, earthworks (cut, fills, and sub-grade), sub-base, base course, and the final stage which will be the wearing course (flexible or rigid pavement) “BUNS is actually doing a great job by widening the road first, giving enough space for Culverts, Bridges, and pavements. From my calculations, each time I use the road now it takes almost or lesser than an hour from Santa to Bamenda, a journey that used to be 2hrs before the works”, Martial Gnoukapasir, a road user described.
To Shey Haruna Babangida, a field engineer and co-founder of HABA Construction Company Limited, as far as the execution of work on the Babadjou-Bamenda stretch of road is concerned much work has been done although still in progress. “BUNS put in place an execution methodology in which they started by treating all the critical points on the road thus making circulation between Bamenda and Bafoussam flexible. On the other hand, the mobilization and engagement of the company are almost hundred percent acceptable”, Haruna reiterated adding that the government is working hand in hand with BUNS to make sure the project’s objectives are met within the stipulated timeframe.
For lot 4 which entails the urban roads of Bamenda, works are yet to begin thereby leaving inhabitants to the mercy of dust and pot-holes. “Prescriptions we had to realize for Lot 4 were to do a double carriageway of 16 – 17 km and when work resumes the people of Bamenda through the city council entreated a 30 meters wide road which is bigger than what was initially designed by the state”, the delegate explained. The Ministry of Public Works has to carry out new studies to redesign the contract for lot 4”, says Nwainbi Paul.
In 2018, according to Stopblablacam, Sogea-Satom who was initially contracted to rehabilitate the road suspended works on the road, and in 2020 they withdrew from the contract due to insecurity in the North West Region.To Nwaimbi Paul Ayeah, NW Regional delegate of Public Works, the security challenges posed by the crisis is been handled by security forces. “Early in 2018, due to the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West Regions, works were stopped as Sogea-Satom left”.
“No technical challenges have been recorded so far. There is going to be a regulated supply of funds as all financial conditions have been met before the resumption of work. Hopefully, by 2024 we are going to receive if not the reception of 3 lots, at least two”, he added.
BUNS, on the other hand, indicated some challenges including the rainy season which slows down work. “It is quite difficult to work in these areas in the rainy season so we halted work. Also, the irregular supply of fuel makes it difficult to work”, says BUNS’s representative.
Looking at the road’s safety, Missimikim Martial, an International road safety consultant at Securoute Africa, MINTP, and engineering companies should ensure that the new road being reconstructed meets the 3-star or better safety iRAP requirements for all road users. “Sensitization of road users and drivers should be done regarding road safety signs to avoid any accident during and after rehabilitation”, he added.
According to International Circle for the promotion of the creation (CIPCRE), insecurity caused by the crisis in the region isn’t the only challenge at play. “It also involves the mutual security or wellbeing of the local people against GBV of all forms, property destruction, debts owed by workers, and other types of inconveniencies that could emanate due to rehabilitation works along this stretch of road”, says CIPCRE.
“The 52 km stretch of national road 6 has many accident-prone areas (landslide areas, narrowness of the roadway, potholes, tight curves, cliffs, etc.). This has made movement difficult thus affecting inter-urban activities including trade, increase in transport fare, and long traveling hours”, says Haruna Babangida
The project for the rehabilitation of the Babadjou-Matazem-Bamenda road section is been done thanks to USD192 million (XAF113 billion) support from the World Bank. This project, explains this banking institution, is intended to help Cameroon develop a medium-term programme of priority investments in transport. This planning tool should, among other things, facilitate the mobilisation of budgetary resources for targeted investments in the transport sector.
The Ministry of Public works (MINTP) had allocated some money for the rehabilitation of some major roads in the urban center while waiting for the maturity of the new project which involves some redesigned indicators.
“We are doing works through direct labor to treat the critical points in town so the population should be out of the dust and should continue with their economic activities smoothly”, says NW Regional delegate of Public Works.
Paul Achombeng Tambeng, Bamenda city mayor on his part has designed a project to rehabilitate earth roads in some communities which he describes as a care-taking measure.
“This is a project developed by the city council and is not sponsored by the world bank. It’s a temporal measure to make unpassable roads drivable”.
“This will be done through community mobilization. We will begin in Mbatu, Nsongwa, and Chomba. We call on all communities to participate in the realization of this project”.
Persons affected by the Project
According to a 2016 world bank report, 502 people were affected by the project with 232 people from Mezam and 275 from Bamboutos. 405 owned trees and crops found in the project’s rights of way. 70 people owned properties which covered a majority of the compensation cost. Also, 221 of these people are over the age of 55 including 17 women. 66 traders at the Bamenda food market were affected. 65.7% of properties affected in the city of Bamenda are fences and sheds. Homes make up 32.4% of affected facilities .
“The state is currently handling the files of those who were affected by the Bamenda – Babadjou project”, says Paul Ayeah MINTP Nw Regional delegate, adding that it is at the end of the new studies that the new budget and those to be compensated will be known”.
Payne Flora, a resident in Bamenda whose house was destroyed, is yet to receive compensation from the state. “My lawyer did a followed up and the only information he gave me was that the government will compensate me later. I have not heard anything to date”, Flora lamented.