Engineering & Capital Goods News

Cameroon, Chad Truckers Protest Bad Roads, Government Ban on Heavy Trucks

Hundreds of truckers have stopped working on Cameroon’s border with Chad to protest a ban on heavy trucking into Chad, which depends on Cameroon for 80% of its imported goods.

Drivers transporting food and humanitarian assistance say they are disgruntled with what they call Cameroon’s refusal to repair the road linking northern Cameroon and Chad. The route is part of the lone highway used by truck drivers to transport goods from Cameroon’s Douala seaport to N’djamena, capital of landlocked Chad.

Chadian-born Ahmad Yussuf, president of the Cameroon, Chad Truck Transporters Union, said truckers have decided to stop transporting goods to and from Chad until the government of Cameroon repairs highly dilapidated portions of the road.

Yussuf said several hundred trucks are grounded in Cameroon and Chad to honor the protest called by their transport union.

“The situation is very, very complicated [bad],” he said Tuesday by the messaging app WhatsApp from Dabanga, a town on Cameroon’s northern border with Chad. “We have hundreds of trucks parked between Mora, Dabanga and Kousseri for days and weeks, and we call for repairs on that road, it is a very important road for us. If that road is not repaired, the loss is too much. Some goods have expiry dates and so on.”

Yussuf said perishable food items and medical supplies that have to be stored at particular temperatures are exposed to heavy rainfall and a harsh climate. He said their business is at a standstill as they remain on the spot, but he added that it is a price they have to pay to force the government to repair the road.

The drivers also are protesting an August 2022 Cameroon government ban on heavy-duty truck use in the area north of the border with Chad.

Cameroon officials say the lone road linking the two countries has deteriorated greatly, causing accidents and further damage to the road when used by heavy duty trucks.

Cameroon is instructing heavy duty truck drivers to unload and use lighter vehicles to transport the goods from Cameroon to N’djamena. But the drivers say unloading and transporting goods in smaller trucks is expensive and time consuming.

Guy Ondoua Amougou, the highest Cameroon government official in charge of roads in the central African states along the northern border with Chad, said the Cameroon government will repair highly dilapidated portions of the road to enable light vehicles to transport goods, especially perishable foodstuffs to landlocked Chad.

He added that Cameroon is negotiating with the World Bank to fund the construction of a 250-kilometer modern road linking the town of Maroua in Cameroon to N’djamena, Chad.

Amougou did not say when Cameroon intends to complete repairs on the road nor how far along Cameroon’s negotiations are with the World Bank to fund construction.

While waiting, Chadians say the interruption of heavy trucks from circulating in northern Cameroon has slowed deliveries in Chad and increased prices of food, including rice, flour and vegetable oil imported through Cameroon.

Ali Djiba, spokesperson of the Consumers Association of Chad, spoke by a messaging app from N’djamena on Tuesday, saying Chadians are very unhappy because the prices of basic commodities imported through Cameroon have gone up at least a 40 percent in the past month.

He added that Ndjamena and Yaounde should jointly make sure the road linking Cameroon’s Douala seaport and landlocked Chad is constructed to stop a further deterioration of living conditions for civilians in the two countries.

In May, Cameroon state broadcaster CRTV reported that the World Bank had approved a $538 million loan to improve road and rail infrastructure along the Douala N’djamena road within the next three years. The road also links Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.

In May 2014, Cameroon said the Nigerian militant Islamist sect Boko Haram attacked and kidnapped 10 Chinese road construction engineers and killed one Cameroonian soldier at a camp in Mora for the construction engineers.

Since then, Cameroon said its military engineering corps took over construction of the road linking Cameroon’s northern borders with Chad and Nigeria. Cameroon said Chinese contractors abandoned the work following repeated attacks by armed Boko Haram fighters.

Additionally, Cameroon state officials now are blaming ongoing heavy rains and flooding for damaging the road and causing accidents.

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