Rehabilitation of the Douala International airport: Time for an independent assessment 0

The recent closure and rehabilitation of the Douala International airport is critically important and is a matter of deep concern to every Cameroonian. The construction work at the airport is the largest piece of maintenance ever carried out by the Biya regime and cost billions of FCFA. Recently, the Minister of Transport, Edgar Alain Mebo Ngo’o revealed that all is now set for flights to resume at the airport. Minister Alain Mebo Ngo’o noted that work will still continue throughout this year.  We of this publication, after a series of visit at the site can now reveal that nothing new has been added to the airport. The operating, supervisory control and data systems are still the old ones that were there before the so called renovation.

Our Douala Bureau had sounded an early warning even before the closed down concerning the safety of the airport. The ministry of transport ordered a rigorous testing on safety issues regarding the aviation control system. To be sure, the Douala airport authorities were asked specifically about the safety of the runways and whether there were any issues in respect of it. The Douala International airport representatives working on tribal sentiments misled the duly appointed Edgar Alain Mebo Ngo’o committee by not reporting that the airport could still operate with the main runway often used by the military.

We of Cameroon Concord News Group contend that the current leadership at the ministry of transport has no credibility with regard to the transparency of what is going on at the Douala International airport and perhaps even with regard to the truth about what is happening in respect of the maintenance work. The current aviation system which they claim is modern is unable to ensure the required level of safety in take-off and landing.

Cameroon Concord Intelligence Unit is aware that there are design and operating deficiencies and a lack of reliability in all what have been done over a one-month period. What Minister Alain Mebo Ngo’o and his gang have there now is completely inefficient to improve and it would create more confusion with the system if there were attempts at upgrading.

Another key issue in this whole Francophone Beti-Ewondo process now taking place at the Douala International airport is the absence of documentation in respect of the award of contracts in the prime minister’s office and even at the level of the Douala airport administration. Without mincing words,documents on how to run the so called new system, what was there and what was not,are still not available at the level of the Prime Minister and Head of Government including the presidency of the republic.

It will interest our readers to know that returning workers who were seconded to the Yaounde Nsimalen airport have still not have any list of the alarms system. Our chief economic correspondent was heard murmuring privately that, “This would generate dangerous situations”. There are very serious problems with the Douala International airport and they have been known to the CPDM regime since the crash of the Kenyan airlines, yet no media outlet in Cameroon had put this into the public domain. Accountability, credibility and, most of all, safety of the Douala International airport are today in the hands of the man they call Edgar Alain Mebo Ngo’o, Minister of Transport.

Minister Alain Mebo Ngo’o is not accountable to us-the Cameroonian people nor even to the anglophone Prime Minister and Head of Government on what is happening in this matter. Instead (he) and his men are playing the CPDM game and he has issued a statement saying that work in the airport is being adjusted and improved. From what our cream of reporters have seen, we have concluded that nothing has been done at the Douala International airport. All the systems have not been improve and will not be able to accommodate the huge air traffic developing in Douala. Nothing has been replaced. The use of components, material and software,adequate for real-time monitoring are still issues that the regime still have to handle. No one gave us satisfactory answers as regard technical options which have been upgraded within this one-month period of work.

For instance, we wanted to know the response times for the commands and status reports, reliability of the communication system and data collection system, legibility and efficiency of the control interfaces, list of alarms, multiple windows and highlighting of important information relating to the structure. There is clear evidence of significant problems in the operating safety of the Douala International airport. Minister Alain Mebo Ngo’o has clear knowledge of the matter which he has failed to give to Prime Minister Philemon Yang.

The key points we are making to the CPDM government are these: Has a neutral government body gone to inspect the work done at the Douala airport? What was replaced during this one month period of work? How much did it cost the Cameroonian task payer? Can the Minister of Transport vouch for the safety of the airport? With regard to the current operation and money spent, we must have an independent assessment.