CAMEROON has taken steps towards resolving the land dispute that has stalled the construction of Dangote Group’s N18.2 billion ($115 million) cement plant in the country.
Dangote started work on the 1.5 million tonnes-per-year plant in Douala, Cameroon’s capital, in September last year with an eye to finishing the project within 18 months.
But construction was stopped after residents filed an injunction that the land belonged to the ethnic Sawa people.
An aide to Prime Minister Philemon Yang was quoted by agency reports yesterday that the country was eager to see that the dispute ends soon to ensure the cement plant can come on stream early.
‘The Prime Minister and the government are very keen that the project should go on as planned, given the growing demand for cement in the country,’ the aide said.
He said, ‘The Prime Minister has already held a meeting with the Sawa chiefs and will be sending an official delegation of very senior government personalities to the city one of these days, so that the problem can be solved amicably and construction work on the plant site (is) completed as scheduled.’
‘We cannot afford to miss this opportunity,’ he said, adding talks would likely be held this week or early next week.
A spokesman for Dangote Group was not immediately available to comment, though the company issued a statement in the national register saying it was ready to renegotiate its agreement and had already shipped in heavy equipment from Germany.
Dangote, also facing opposition from residents fearing pollution, said it was planning to use state-of-the-art environmental technology on the site, held on a 30-year renewable lease from the government.
Cameroon currently has one cement company, CIMENCAM, with annual output of about 1 million tonnes.
But the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development says annual demand in the country is about 4 million tonnes, growing at about 8 per cent per year.