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Commentary: A Welcome Initiative

Turkey, the country with one of the largest contemporary construction industries in the World today has agreed to build about 620 administrative houses in Cameroon.

The signing by a consortium of Turkish companies of an agreement with the Cameroon government last Tuesday, September 10 is not only hope rekindling but makes solid new found partnership with something completely different in the building sector. To go by the terms of the agreement, the group of Turkish companies will construct 30 sovereign residences for personalities, 40 houses for members of government, 50 for government authorities and 500 other structures for senior workers. According to the agreement the Turks will equally build three Ministerial complexes.

Things appear to have been programmed to move at a lightning speed with feasibility studies undertaken soonest, followed by the financial evaluation of the project. The construction of the said administrative structures as stated by the Turkish Ambassador, Omer Faruk Dogan, during the signing ceremony organised to immortalise the agreement, will open floodgate of experience-sharing.

In effect, Turkey’s industrialisation was more or less done without extensive external influence and that makes for its uniqueness. That said, it is important to note that the initiative which many Cameroonians are surely appreciative of, is the concrete translation of the diplomatic node President Paul Biya and Turkish President Abdullah Gül tide between Yaounde and Ankara during their exchange of State visits.

With the hope that the project will not follow the devilish track of other preceding ones, many of which have not been able to move an inch after the signing of Memorandums of Understanding, the truth about this one is that it will, if completely executed, transform the housing landscape in Cameroon.

It will break the monotony of colonial structures, many of which have over leaved their usefulness but which because of lack of new buildings remain in usage. Local administrators such as Senior Divisional Officer, Divisional Officers, Mayors and security administrators can testify. It takes no second when in a Divisional or sub Divisional capital to identify the office of the administrator.

For several decades, Cameroon has invested very little in administrative buildings. The consequences have been far reaching. Many State workers find themselves in a fix and are compelled to work under disturbing conditions, tight offices hosting several workers, some of them senior, broken down equipment and outdated facilities.  The past years have witnessed an exponential increase in the number of State workers incidentally demanding a corresponding increase in housing facilities.

Many government workers meriting lodging facilities are forced to take houses in the private residential quarters unavoidably embracing the headache that could come from landlords. The 25,000 certificate holders recruited into the public service have beefed up government staff.

The absence of good offices and residential houses for functionaries clearly has a negative bearing on output. Far from being a luxury, the construction of new houses will enliven the spirit of work and contribute to the achievement of the magic goal of emergence by 2035.

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