Government has proposed strategy to revive the railway sector in Cameroon and make it more competitive.
A bill governing the railway sector has been deposited in this regard at the National Assembly in a plenary sitting this June 13 2023.
The bill seeks to modernize the sector administratively and infra-structurally and render it more competitive.
The Grounds of the Bill
The railway sector is still governed by Law No. 74/10 of 16 July 1974 relating to railway policing and safety, as amended and supplemented by the concession agreement signed in 1999 between the State of Cameroon and CAMRAIL.
Besides this legal framework which has become ill-suited, the sector has for many years now witnessed several failings or shortcomings, notably;
– continuous degradation of infrastructure
– drastic drop in the number of passengers from 1.4 million in 2010 to 600 000 in 2021
– decrease in volume of goods transported, estimated at 1.6 million in 2021, as against 1.9 million in 2010
– closure of the MBANGA-KUMBA and NGOUMOU- MBALMAYO lines
– investment deficit and deteriorated service quality
– weak State control and sanction instruments in the sector which is losing its competitiveness daily.
This bill highlights that since 1974, Cameroon’s railway network has maintained its initial length of 1,270 kilometres, 270km of which are now degraded or out of use. No additional line has been built since then.
To adequately address these shortcomings, and reflect the recommendations of the audit conducted following the Eseka railway accident, the bill ushers in a sector modernization drive by reconfiguring the institutional landscape, redifining the role of each player and establishing a control, regulatory and sanctions system.
In this light, the State maintains its exclusive prerogative of formulating the rail policy and developing railway transport.
The institutional framework adopted proposes the setting up of a rail assets management company responsible for managing the assets and rights allocated by the State to the rail activity.
The assets management company shall be responsible for infrastructure and regulating access to the railway sector by operators. It shall be holder of an exclusive concession granted by the State for the management of the national railway network.
Also, the draft instrument tabled provides for a railway regulatory and safety authority whose role shall be to control the implementation of regulations, monitor public and private players and settle disputes at the pre-litigation phase.
Bruno Ndonwie Funwie