The United Nations says huge loads of equipment, needed by the United Nations MINUSCA forces (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission) in the Central African Republic (CAR) are blocked at the Douala seaport in Cameroon. The move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa.
General Babacar Gaye, the U.N. special representative to the landlocked C.A.R., says material and food aid stockpiling at the Douala seaport in Cameroon are vital for the humanitarian needs of the people in troubled central African nation.
“The main challenges are first of all that we have to restore state authority and also that we have to reconcile the communities,” said Gaye. “It may be seen as a bit bumpy notably in Bangui and in the border during the last days fire confrontation which is very worrisome. But if you look into the overall picture the situation is improving, it’s going to be consolidated if we can properly implement what has been decided.”
Customs broker Ferdinand Ndifor, who is negotiating the release of the goods destined for C.A.R., says administrative bottlenecks are responsible for the logjam in Douala.
“We have lengthy processes, paperwork and so on which is irrelevant,” said Ndifor. “They provide the financial guarantee with their embassies, so why delay their goods. The option will be to create a dry port around Dibamba. All goods going to Central Africa and Chad, remove them from the seaport. Take them out of the port to avoid the congestion.”
Nchechuma Banla, the media relations officer for the seaport, told VOA that goods destined for C.A.R. through Cameroon, which is the main gateway, have been suffering from slow clearing processes in the past seven months because the port is congested.
“There was a crisis in the Republic of Central Africa that caused timber that comes in from Central Africa and Northern Congo not to be coming in, so when the crisis started subsiding, the timber came in, in such huge quantities that the timber terminal could not handle,” said Banla.
Ninety percent of goods destined for C.A.R. pass through the Douala seaport.
The delays are disastrous not only to the economy of Cameroon but the economies of the Central African states who depend on the Douala seaport.