Agro-industries and other development institutions are playing a preponderant role in opening up farm-to-market roads in the rural communities.
Road maintenance in Cameroon is not only an exclusive responsibility of the government and local councils but also a duty of agro-industrial companies and development institutions. Even before the transfer of road maintenance competences and resources for communal roads to local councils, agro-industrial giants like the Cotton Development Corporation (SODECOTON), Cocoa Development Corporation (SODECAO), amongst others and development institutions such as the South West Development Authority (SOWEDA) have been active in the domain of road maintenance over the past years. For the agro-industrial outfits, the role in opening up and rehabilitating roads is understandable given that they need to evacuate their produce from the farms to the factories and eventually to the market. SODECOTON for instance, is said to be rehabilitating some 7000km of roads every year in the northern region where its activities are based. The enterprise has a whole brigade and equipment for road works. Funding of its road maintenance activities is part of the corporation’s annual budget. The Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi said during the just ended annual conference of his Ministry that they will pursue partnership with forestry companies and development institutions as far as road maintenance is concerned. The objective is to make all roads passable all year round and disenclave agricultural production basins. The South West Development Authority (SOWEDA) has in the past been partnering with the Ministry of Public Works to maintain rural roads in the South West Region. This partnership, the Director of General Affairs at SOWEDA, Kange Elinge, told Cameroon Business Today, was suspended in 2015 because SOWEDA was being reorganised (contrat plain). He however remained optimistic that with a new fleet of heavy duty road maintenance equipment the institution has acquired, their partnership with the Ministry of Public Works will resume this year. Apart from the partnership with the Ministry of Public Works, SOWEDA, Mr Kange said, also receives funding from the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture and Rural Development. Such funding enabled the structure to rehabilitate agricultural roads like the 4km Muyuka-Makanga stretch rehabilitated in 2018 amidst insecurity in the region.