Cameroon is a vast construction site with the need for strict supervision of infrastructure projects. The Ministry of Public Works was on November 21, 2014 tasked by a Prime Ministerial decree as sole overseer. Since then, the Minister, Patrice Amba Salla has been multiplying outings to sensitise, harmonise and awaken stakeholders on the need to respect to the strictest level, the instructions of the Head of Government.
It was within this light that the Minister of Public Works granted a press conference in Yaounde yesterday May 5, 2015. Patrice Amba Salla was flanked by Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary and the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Works, Hans Nyetam Nyetam. The Minister said the public works sector was hit in the 1980s and 1990s by an economic recession, slowing down funding. Things later changed, and donors started stretching a helping hand. However, it became evident that resources mobilised for infrastructure projects were mishandled due to lack of harmonisation. This, he said necessitated reforms leading to the December 9, 2011 and September 13, 2013 Presidential decrees. First, and second, was the December 9, 2011 and the September 13, 2013 Presidential decrees organising government and the Ministry of Public Works respectively. The November 21, 2014 Prime Ministerial decree was third of such restructuring framework put in place by government to configure the sector. Minister Amba Salla said yesterday’s press gathering was the hallmark of outings organised to blow the whistle of the government’s initiative to properly coordinate the execution of infrastructure projects.
He was however on the hot seat. He was quizzed on projects with shaky execution rates under his supervision. Patrice Amba Salla is just from a field tour where he frowned at the snail pace execution of the Sangmelima-Bikoula stretch, a road counting for the Sangmelima-Djoum-Mintom-Ouesso project, expected to link Yaounde and North Congo. The Minister said the Iranian Kayson Inc was incompetent and lacked technical facilities. But how then was an inefficient company chosen to tar a 65 km road? Patrice Amba Salla answered that the company was selected on basis of its file, “It was an international bid and the company convinced the jury.” He however revealed that donors played to the company’s favour. Three years on, the Minister says, the non-availability of a text to compensate the population is one of the factors slowing down the project. He disclosed that some ill-fated individuals were fabricating bills to forward for payment for fictitious work. Amba Salla however warned all and sundry, promising hard times to people who are working behind the scene to embezzle government money.
Resistance From Project Owners
Quizzed on how effective the Ministry of Public Works could tackle resistance from project owners, Amba Salla said they have the right and duty to respect government reforms. However, recalcitrant project owners will be responsible for their acts. The Ministry is charged with forwarding reports to hierarchy, and “they speak for themselves”. “I will not fight,” he said, emphasising that his Ministry has been tasked to respect norms by carrying out feasibility studies, conduct assessments, issue bids, select contractors and follow-up projects with focus on quality, cost and the respect of deadlines.
But how apt are State engineers? Cameroon’s National Advanced School of Engineering and the National Advanced School of Public Works train fine engineers. The fear of the Minister is the ability of government to hold them back in the country due to the not-so-satisfactory pay package in the sector. In that regard, he urged for more patriotism among trained engineers. He however emphasised that his Ministry is well beefed up with construction engineers. — Source :