A Cameroonian delegation led by Richard Ambassa Ntede, head of the Division of Legal Affairs and Treaties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, in April 2014. The purpose of this visit was to finalize the agreement framework for the expansion of Cameroon’s railway to Chad. The agreement, which is said to be close to completion and only needs to be signed by the Ministers of Transportation for both nations, will likely be seen through in the second quarter of 2014.
The agreement proposes the expansion to Chad, although the path of the actual route is yet to be decided upon. The extension will be built by Camrail, a Bolloré Africa Logistics’ subsidiary and operator of the Cameroonian railway network. There are indications that the project’s leaders might have more than just an idea of what the actual route will look like, even though no official agreement or has been reached in this regard.
Some believe that route will run from the Camrail station in Ngaoundéré (Cameroon) to Ndjamena, covering 1,400 km, and will cost an estimated investment of 1.4 trillion FCFA. An alternative preferred by Chad would involve running the railway from Ngaoundéré to Moundou (Chad’s economic centre), and would cover only 400 km for a total cost of 1.16 trillion FCFA. This would open the northern region of Chad to the rest of the world. If the first route is Chosen, the Chadian government is said to be committed to completing the railway expansion between Ndjamena and Moundou on its own.
The expansion of the Cameroonian railway network to Chad, if completed, would help with development of tourism in the Northern part of Cameroon. It would also help Chad’s economy, as “almost all imports and exports transit through Douala,” according to the Chadian Minister of Public Infrastructure and Equipment, Gata Ngoulou, during a Ceremony in Yaoundé on February 2013. He added that “rail is the ideal means of transport from Douala port to Chad, and vice versa. Sixty percent of Camrail fret shipments end up in Chad.” In the meantime, a large portion of Chad’s imports will continue to be trucked on the Douala-Ndjamena corridor, which is subject to police abuse, corruption and arm-robbery.