Recent findings show that wasteful spending by the 34-year old Biya regime is the principal reason for a disturbing phenomenon of acute lack of essential infrastructure across the country.
The Cameroon Journal has gathered on good authority that Cameroon pays over three times what other African countries do just to acquire similar infrastructure built by foreign multi-national construction companies.
We learned the ongoing work to build the 60,000 seater stadium in Yaounde dubbed ‘Stade Omnisports Paul Biya’, was contracted out at the cost of 163 Billion FCFA since 2007. A similar capacity stadium that is also currently being constructed in Abidjan – Ivory Coast, (Stade d’Ebimpe) is being constructed at the cost of 50 Billion FCFA, more than three times cheaper than the one in Yaounde.
Similarly, the Douala 50,000 capacity stadium, (Stade Omnisports de Douala Bwang Bakoko) was given out to foreign contractors this year at the cost of 150 Billion FCFA; a 60,000 capacity stadium, (Stade du 26 Mars) in Bamako Mali was built at the cost of barely 18 Billion FCFA, though this was between year 2000 and 2001. Even the time span within which the project was launched and eventually carried to finish (barely one year), is unprecedented in Cameroon’s contracts execution history. Even if the time lapse into consideration, experts say the difference between 18 Billion FCFA by 2001 and 150 Billion FCFA 15 years later, is really wide.
The 20,000 capacity stadium in Limbe was built at the cost of 18 Billion FCFA while that of Bafoussam went for a whooping 20 Billion FCFA; sums which are about what Mali paid to build a 60,000 capacity stadium.
We noticed that Gabon, which is oil rich and one of Cameroon’s closest neighbours, fares better when it comes to bargaining for job executions by international contractors. Gabon’s 20,500 capacity stadium; Stade de Port-Gentil, went for 56 Billion FCFA, which construction is stilll ongoing.
The worst Gabon ever had, was when Omar Bongo’s country spent 92 Billion FCFA to renovate and enlarge the Stade Omnisports Omar Bongo in Libreville, which is still far short of 163 Billion FCFA for Yaounde and 150 Billion FCFA for Douala respectively.
The best bargainers in Africa south of the Sahara according to statistics we stumbled on are Ghana and Equatorial Guinea. The Ghanaian government spent the equivalent of barely 10 Billion FCFA to construct the 20,000 seater Essipong Sports Stadium in Sekondi-Takoradi and the same amount to also build to finish the 21,017 capacity stadium in Tamale. Their renovation work on the 40,000 capacity Accra stadium, (Accra Sports Stadium) gulped 16 Billion FCFA while similar works in Kumasi, (Baba Yara Stadium) took the equivalent of 13 Billion FCFA.
Experts are unanimous in their opinion that Cameroon spends far more in all areas of development compared to other African countries. They cited the Yaounde-Douala express way whose first phase was contracted out at the cost of 568 Million US Dollars, which is about 334 Billion FCFA. This they say puts the cost of constructing just one kilometer of a good road at about 4 Billion FCFA. They added that it costs the government of Cameroon an average of 205 Million FCFA to construct one kilometer of tarred road when the continental average stands at barely 100 Million FCFA.
They equally cited the 10 kilometre stretch of road from Yaounde to the Nsimalen International Airport. This road will cost the Cameroonian tax payer a whooping 154 Billion FCFA. No matter how high the quality, experts say, there is nowhere on earth a road is constructed at over 12 Billion FCFA per kilometer.
Apart from poor bargaining, an economist who elected anonymity also attributes this inglorious wastage to endemic corruption in the system.