The commercial quay of the Douala Seaport has narrowed over the years following the abandonment of ship wrecks.
At least 80 wrecks have been identified. Some are sunken wrecks; others are partially sunken with visible parts while the rest are floating on the shores.
Officials of the Douala Ports Authority say the accumulation of shipwrecks on the water bodies, dykes and shores can exposes the Douala seaport to treat of spill and large scale pollution of its waters.
The more than 80 shipwrecks accumulated at the Douala seaport within a period of 30 years. In the bid the clear the port of improve the port’s operational capacity that a large scale operation to clear the port of wrecks has been launched.
The removal of ship wrecks at Douala seaport is also a concretisation of one of the decisions arrived at in during a CEMAC summit in Chad to make the ports of the Central Africa Republic, Chad and Cameroon attractive and competitive.
Risks posed by wrecks
The Secretary General of the Ports Community, Lyne Onana Ndo says the phenomenon affects 30% of ports exploitation. It also impedes security and navigation, reception capacity and the implementation of their different services.
The accumulation of shipwrecks also affects the environment. “It increases the risk of having our water contaminated. The ships contain chemicals that if they happen to drain into the waters the marine ecosystem will be contaminated. In the security perspective, the ship wrecks can also serve as hideouts for brigands who can become pirates.” The Director of Dredging and Maritime Logistics at the ports authority of Douala, George Menye explained.
The ongoing operation will be improved upon. The port will become cleaner, wider and the capacity of the port will witness an increase. The Secretary General of the Ports Community, Lyne Onana Ndo, said “The project seeks to improve the productivity of the ports facilities. We also want to meet international standards and compete with other international ports.”
Cost of the project
The project to clear the Douala seaport also includes the clearing of the ports of Limbe and Tiko ports of all wreckage.
The five billion CFA francs projects target some 105 wrecked ships in the Douala, Bonaberi, Tiko and Limbe shores. The Douala port alone has 80 while Tiko has nine and Limbe has 16.
The wrecks are generally small transport ships, fishing boats, or toeing boats whose lifespan have expired.
Previously, 25 wrecks were removed from the commercial quay in the process of the port of Douala when the humanitarian floating hospital, Mercy Ship arrived. An emergency removal procedure was enacted to create space to duck the hospital ship.
The clearing of shores of navigation wrecks and litter is generally carried out by specialised enterprises that have expertise and tact. The ports authority reviewed international companies and selected experts on navigation wreck cleaning for the exercise.
Their work will include resurfacing of sunken ships and collecting floating ones along the shores from Douala to Limbe and Tiko. The Wrecks will be packed and stored at reserve sites pending auctioning as iron for recycling.