By LUKONG Pius, Cameroon Tribune
All business and economic eyes will turn towards the prestigious and historic seaside town of Limbe in the course of the next six months. The announcement by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development that the wharf of the Limbe Deep Seaport goes operational in six months leaves no one indifferent. The project for which a contract was signed in 2013 with the Limbe Port and IndustrialDevelopment Corp. (LIPID), the South Korean company created in 2006 and charged with its execution, will be provided with a quay that is capable of anchoring ships of all dimensions. Government authorities are convinced that the project will create wealth, jobs and incidentally stir the country’s economic growth.
The Limbe Deep Seaport is coming of age and will undeniably represent a veritable oxygen balloon for maritime business in Cameroon. Considered as one of the last major first generation projects, the Limbe port is expected to play a very important role not only in the decongestion programme of the Douala port but also in paving the way for the effective construction of the cement factory in the area. Estimated at almost FCFA 300 billion (602 million dollars), the Limbe Deep Seaport will change the face of the economy especially as it will serve as a platform for maritime trade in the West and Central African sub regions. It is for this reason that experts see it as a necessary alternative to the over congested Douala port.
Now that the green light has been given and deadlines fixed, the question on every lip remains; how concrete will the project be executed given that several ambitious projects of this nature have been announced in the past and memorandums of understanding signed just for Cameroonians to realise later that they were smokescreens. The Limbe Deep Seaport is one project that has been in the drawers of the administration for decades for reasons the population is still to understand. By virtue of its location and its natural advantages, the Limber seaport remains one of the most privileged positions in the country. Limbe has a straddling position between the main port of Douala and neighbouring Nigeria, Cameroon’s largest economic market.
The exponential growth in maritime circulation for the past decades has sent the main seaport of Douala limping. The negative consequences have been enormous. Ships transporting goods that can help stir the economy arrive at the quay and make u-turns without anchoring for lack of space. Some that succeed to anchor remain stocked for several days without being unloaded for lack of parking space. The development of a deep seaport in Limbe ought to open the gateway for several of such ports to be constructed along the country’s coastal line which measures over 400 kilometres. The country will even make more economic gains by building more ports in places such as Idenau and Tiko. In fact, all coastal towns could be transformed into port cities. Perhaps government could make this a new challenge for the economy.