Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Nightmare on the Bamenda Ring Road

Ring Road in Tears (what about rain gates?)
The dilemma of horrific roads in this country has become a painful shame. In Donga Mantung Division for example, normal interaction has been frustrated by bad roads. Vehicle owners are in distress as their vehicles are not used optimally. In a border Division with hardly any railway, no air service and now no roads, the citizens of Donga Mantung Division feel trapped with nowhere to turn. The nightmare I underwent yesterday on this road angered me to loose my knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads.
The road to Nkambe commonly known as the Ring Road is a big shame to the Biya regime. It is so bad that traveling from Kumbo to Nkambe on the Ring Road needs two days whereas it is less than 60 kilometers. Even vehicles using that road invariably retire to a mechanics workshop at the end of every journey. Transporters are hurting and are bewildered that despite their payment of all road taxes to Government and the various rates to the state and local governments, little is being done to repair the roads upon which their livelihood depends. It is not just a nightmare but a therapeutic theater of trauma for anyone pregnant woman and children below the ages of two. From Kumbo to Nkambe, there are trucks that have sunk into the mud and have remained on the spot for the past two weeks.  Besides, the very many potholes and detours mean that vehicles keep breaking down and sometimes with disastrous consequences.  
It is common for thieves, rapists and other miscreants to ensconce themselves in bad portions of the roads where all vehicles virtually come to a halt. Traveling on the Kumbo-Nkambe stretch of the ring road represents a perpetual danger to the population. Instead, the present state of nature of the Ring Road makes it impossible to plan a journey or predict arrival time. Commercial activity is suffering as goods and services are now in short supply leading to price increases in practically all consumer items.
Why Divisional Delegate of Public Works for Donga Mantung Should be Interrogated
When I made a comment on one social media on the nightmare on the Bamenda Ring Road, a friend asked me whether we have a department in my country that oversees road maintenances. I said, well all this is happening in a country where there are several agencies, including the Ministry of Public Works which is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads.
Enjoyment on the ring road
Imagine that yesterday, I spent the night on this road, I discovered that strange aspect of the road that government seems to ignore. In fact, the general cry is the poor nature of the rain gates. The Divisional Delegates of Public Works for Donga Mantung Division manages this section as if it is his personal shop. This year even though 8 million FCFA was disbursed by the state to construction new rain-gates, indicators are rife at that nothing has been done to that effect. Even the old ones that were to be repaired in order to control the movement of heavy trucks during this time of the year have not been repaired at all. It is even alleged that the rain-gate controllers have also not been paid for the past months reasons why they would prefer to collect a 1.000 FCFA note from a truck driver and allow him to pass.  The most embarrassing is that the poor population suffers from such obnoxious corrupt practices.
The Yaounde government at least on paper has voted billions of FCFA for the rehabilitation of our road network. And the maintenance contract on this stretch of the road was awarded to Joe Corner Water but nothing concrete ever happens on the ground except for the few potholes that were filled. It time for CONAC to look into what happened to the billions allocated for road works and whilst at it, to investigate well especially all the decentralized structures that have to provide other control mechanism like rain-gates. They should even be arrested and detained if found guilty. In fact I was so annoyed that by the time of putting down this piece I completely forgot the name of the Delegate of Public Works for Donga Mantung Division. This matter is important because our country cannot develop with rickety office gansterism.
There is the problem of erosion impacting on the road network. Whole sections of our roads are being washed away by erosion and poorly planned or non-existent drainage system. The case of the Bamenda Ring Road is very pathetic.   

A Corrupt Government that doesn’t Care
From Kumbo-Nkambe, the road in it entirety is now a dangerous pothole. I mean potholes everywhere and all the directions. It is practically impossible to avoid all of them as quite often one preventive manoeuvre often leads the driver into yet another pothole. That s what exactly happened to us yesterday at Tatum and we were forced to spent the night along the road. Trailers and tankers are quite vulnerable. Trailers as usual often do not secure the containers they carry, relying on their weight for stability. As a result of a combination of circumstances, the Ring Road is littered with overturned trailers, tankers and containers. At the Seminary Hill Tatum (another celebrated hill) three trailers have been stuck in the mud for two days. How they managed to pass the ring gate when there was a heavy down pour is another misery.   Traveling along the ring road doesn’t require any stranger to look for signposts, because the nature of the road is always a topic of conversation and most celebrated areas are always key topics. This is so because after each 1km or even less, the driver will always ask passengers to jump down and push the car. Here one of them “we are at Kitshong, please everybody should move out of the car because we have to push”.
Transporters are lamenting the loss of revenue. They can only operate skeletal services during the day and cannot operate at night because of the menace of armed robbers. Their revenue is down by 70% and unless the roads are repaired, the transporters may well abandon their trade. Already bad roads have led to a reduction in travel.
It will soon be Christmastime when Donga Mantung experiences an upsurge in commuter traffic as everyone will be rushing home to celebrate. With the roads being in such poor state it is doubtful whether individuals would be prepared to put themselves through the rigours of a punishing journey merely for the sake of celebrating the yuletide with their kith and kin and friends.  
Another problem besetting the ring road is that government cares little about the people of Donga Mantung Division.  
The lack of maintenance of roads in Cameroon has become a public issue as Cameroonians are daily lamenting this failure of leadership. Good roads are a basic component of good governance. Cameroonians are routinely being put at risk everyday as a result of the failure of the state to provide adequate amenities for its citizens. All the authorities involved in road construction and maintenance should buckle down and do something to remove this blot on Cameroon’s image. We are even made to understand that this road is tarred on papers.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

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