Speedy Counterpart Funding!

Inhabitants along the Batchenga-Ntui-Yoko-Lena-Tibati-Ngaoundere road are certainly beaming with smiles since Saturday March 28, 2015 when hopes of tarring the much-heralded but long-drawn road were once again revived. What until then was like a fairy tale, given the uncountable years that the project has been on the lips of decision-makers, now looks feasible.

In effect, funding that has been a missing link for the project is being mobilised and dates even aanced for when effective work could begin and end. Government and donor agencies Saturday March 28, 2015 signed four loan agreements to the tune of FCFA 176 billion to transform the hitherto dream to reality so as to trigger the much-needed socio-economic development that comes with road pavement. The money is for the first phase of the project.

This is good news indeed given the suffering of the masses who are mostly farmers especially with regards to conveying their crops from the farms to the markets to make ends meet. The news is much sweeter given that the Batchenga-Ntui-Yoko-Lena-Tibati-Ngaoundere road is part of the National Road 15 linking Batchenga to Ngaoundere-rail terminal and to the northern part of the country to Chad via Ntui, Yoko and Tibati, Martap and Beka. These are major agricultural, forest, fish-farming and pastoral zones of the country. A veritable road of integration as it links not only the south with the north but also Cameroon and Chad.

Mobilising the funding at last is also telling of the country’s credibility in the eyes of the donor agencies most importantly at a time many of them are showing a lot of skepticism vis-agrave-vis dishing out money owing to instability that is fast enveloping most economies. A golden opportunity that the Yaounde authorities must seize to aance the economy and attain desired growth objectives.

However, it emerged from the loan-signing ceremony that government will need to mobilize its counterpart funding amounting to FCFA 26 billion to take the project off the ground. Past experiences have shown that getting the State’s part of the deal has almost always been a difficult equation to solve. Even though it is not always something substantial in the project’s financing (usually 15 per cent of the total funding), counterpart funds often have a pivotal role to play in a project’s execution. Either it is used to compensate the population displaced or whose property would be destroyed in course of the project or to facilitate access into the site of the project. All determinant steps in taking off the project. Delays in mobilizing such funds therefore have an overbearing effect on the project and its final cost. Some projects whose counterpart funding delayed ended up costing more than initially projected, especially with hikes in raw materials and other related costs.

Government therefore has an interest for a speedy mobilization of its own share of the funds for the Batchenga-Ntui-Yoko-Lena-Tibati-Ngaoundere road. The enthusiasm shown by the African Development Bank, African Development Fund, Development Bank of Central African States and the Japan’s International Cooperation Agency in providing the FCFA 176 billion should and as a matter of fact, must be speedily copied by government. The hopes of the population in seeing the project take off must not be dampened by delays in mobilizing FCFA 26 government counterpart funding. The billions from donors must also not be left to lie fallow in their coffers for want of government’s conformity to the joyous and hope-raising deal sealed Saturday. The FCFA 176 billion is a loan which will be paid back over the years.

Putting all what it takes in place to start off work will provide enough guarantees for reimbursing the loan when it matures. Roads are by themselves non-negligible income-generators by virtue of their tollgates revenue. Batchenga-Ntui-Yoko-Lena-Tibati-Ngaoundere covers a distance of 595 km and developing the road and paying back the loan in time will translate into reality the notion of “win-win” partnership like the one government and the four donor agencies penned last Saturday.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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