Gov’t Reemphasises Original Limbe Shipyard Plan

The government has reiterated it is unprepared to swerve from the original plan destining the Limbe Shipyard as a naval repair base and not a construction site. 

Officials steering the protractedly snail-paced project told newsmen at a press briefing in Douala Monday April 23 the government had overruled the new vision for the venture ushered in by Korean investors.  Donors and financiers froze funding last year, when the Korean partners insisted on reworking the project to eventually render the shipyard a vessel construction venue.

The decision obliged the Islamic Development Bank, the African Development Bank and others to withhold the disbursement of pledged funds.  A frowning board chair of the Cameroon Shipyard and Engineering Ltd, Louis Claude Nyassa blamed the Koreans for backpedaling the works that rumbled off in 2005 and was initially due completion in three years.

He revealed that via a text signed by PM Philemon Yang on April 11, the government ordered the Koreans currently at the management helm of the Cameroon Shipyard, or Chantier Naval, to shelve their plans and immediately return to the original project, as well as recommit the retreating project funders.

“The confusion caused by the immixing of visions for the project forced the government to demand clarity only two months following the arrival of the Korean team in December 2010.  The government formally instructed that the original project be pursued while the new vision was studied. 

It must be considered that the legal and financial frameworks of the first plan were done vis-à-vis donors and the government took several commitments, but the Koreans decided to change all that when they came,” Antoine Bokoro Alo’o, deputy general manager of Chantier Naval said.   

The Korean General Manager of Chantier Naval, Moon Ki-woo was conspicuously absent from the press briefing Monday.  He has previously argued that merging repair and construction would considerably lift envisaged revenue generation at the Limbe Shipyard as well as create more jobs.  Experts agree, adding that Limbe has deep sea attributes that should be taken advantage of, and significantly decongest the Douala shipyard and its shallower waters.

It was not immediately clear what the reaction of the Koreans will be. They have reportedly pumped in billions of francs CFA into the state-owned corporation after a shady arrangement with the government parachuted them there. 

According to Nyassa, a series of other problems including trivial and piecemeal disbursements, the lack of adequate equipment and managerial qualms [one of which landed the pioneer GM, Zaccheus Mungwe Forjindam in pretrial detention at the Newbell Prison], etc have greatly contributed in slowing down the project execution.

Figures presented at the briefing indicate the current project execution progress rate dangles around 54 percent.  Nonetheless, Nyassa insisted the shipyard will be completed and ready for use by the end of 2013 with platforms for vessel repairs and general naval equipment maintenance.


By Divine Ntaryike Jr