All things being equal, the multibillion Kribi Deep Seaport in the Ocean Division of the South Region will effectively go operational in the early days of March 2018. In effect, the first commercial vessel is expected to arrive the port site in Mboro, some 35 km from Kribi town, on March 1 or 2, slightly over one week from now.
The countdown is therefore on. The announcement obviously puts the entire nation especially the governing class and business world in a state of anxiety.
For the former, realising the dream would lay to rest the long wait that has characterised the fine infrastructure constructed with a loan contracted with a giant financier, Eximbank China. The port has been technically fit for use for about three years now.
The purchase of two tug boats christened, “Roi Mayesse” and Roi Madola” meant to facilitate the anchoring of bigger vessels at the port way back in 2014 followed by the putting in place of the management team thereafter raised hopes that the much-heralded port could soon yield desired fruit. Far from that, it has been a veritable school of patience business people who could have imported or exported via the port have been subjected to.
As a matter of fact, the infrastructure that has the propensity to significantly improve the country’s business environment owing to its comparative advantage over the Port of Douala with which it is to play complementary roles, was almost a liability rather than the vital asset it was supposed to be.
Grounding the two tug boats for years and paying workers with scarce resources from elsewhere, analysts believe, have been a huge burden to the State. Its full functioning would have rather fetched resources to take care of the port personnel and infrastructure as well as contribute in oiling the State’s development machinery through revenue to the national treasury.
Revenue from the port’s activities would have even started refunding the loan government contracted with the Chinese financier and why not serve as a buffer for sourcing for substantial capital for the second phase of the project. The wait for the fruition of the Kribi Deep Seaport has thus been long.
Taking off early March as announced would therefore be a happy denouement. Attention is thus highly focused on Kribi! However, stakeholders must not forget that efficacy of the port in the short, medium and long-terms would largely depend on the takeoff.
It is imperative to create a positive feeling in the minds of port users that Kribi has what some do not or can do better what others are doing. It goes without saying that ports are like hotels. Their profitability largely depends on how well they are known and the effectiveness with which services are rendered to users.
Let the announced takeoff be flawless and may management surmount the daunting task of marketing the port to potential businessmen worldwide. Its profitability is non-negotiable!