Sand, Gravel Scarcity Hits Yaounde

Work at construction sites has halted due to the suspension of daily supplies of the indispensable building materials.

Construction material, especially sand and gravel, have become hot cake in Yaounde, surrounding towns and major project sites due to an increasing shortage caused by the suspension of activities by sand transporters and distributors. The indispensable construction material has since May 18, 2015, witnessed scarcity although the price remains unchanged. Sales points at Rond Point Biyem-Assi, Olembe, Ekounou, Mimboman and Nkolbikok, have since been characterized by an unprecedented calm in business activities with clients and vendors staring at each without any exchange of bank notes.

On the contrary, hundreds of stakeholders involved in the chain gather every day, waiting for a dawn to their grievance. At Rond Point Biyem-Assi on May 21, 2015, only fleet of empty trucks packed with some truck drivers, could be spotted. The scenario was pretty different at Olembe on May 22, 2015 where hundreds of stakeholders among others gathered to reorganise their association. The businessmen say the halt in activity has caused untold slowdown in public and private construction sites in Yaounde and the neighbouring towns of Ebolowa, Mbalmayo, Bafia, Sa’a, Batschenga, Nkoteng, Mbandjock, Monatele and Ebebda, where they supply the products. The entire distribution chain has also been grounded, they say.

The complain of abusive road checks with drivers saying close to 12 check points have been mounted along a distance of about 85 km from Yaounde to Ebebda – causing untold financial losses. The truck drivers say the increase in the number of check points plays down on earnings. Out of over FCFA 30,000 spent on the over 12 joint police, gendarmerie, council and administrative check points erected near Soa, Nkoumetou, Obala, Sa’a, Monatele, Balamba and Bafia for each round, the truck drivers give out FCFA 3,000 and FCFA 2,000 for mobile Intervention Unit of the Police, GMI, communal tax and toll gate respectively which to them is legal.

They argue that the livelihoods of members of the entire chain are at stake when each trip to the River Sanaga takes FCFA 50, 000 for the truck owner, FCFA 25,000 for check points, FCFA 60,000 for fuel and an uncounted sum for miscellaneous. Meanwhile, 40 tons is sold now at between FCFA 160, 000 and FCFA 170, 000. “Our earnings are threatened, with our bosses unsatisfied with returns,” lamented Dominique Ndoman Mendouga, a truck driver.

Close to 500 trucks make rounds at the River Sanaga and quarries for sand and gravel daily and if nothing is done, work at infrastructure project sites in the South and Centre Regions will slowdown, the spokesperson of the sand transporters, Noah Ambono, said. “We are not on strike. We are observing a halt in activity,” he emphasised. He explained that their grievances are already on the table of the Chief Executive of the Centre Region, Governor, Joseph Otto Wilson. “He promised to receive us for talks today, Monday, May 25, 2015,” Noah Ambono said. The dredging activity, the President of the Association of Sand and Laterite Transporters recalled, employs thousands of villagers and a standstill of activity can only contribute to deteriorate their livelihoods, consequently, the economy.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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