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Douala port container terminal: Was the French Foreign Minister in Cameroon for Bolloré?

Hours after the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived Cameroon for a state visit, the government halted a contract with Swiss firm Terminal Investment Limited (TIL).

A letter circulating on social media says the contract has been halted until a decision is arrived at in a court case brought by France’s Bollore.

A coincidence?

Le Drian’s visit comes two weeks after President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya travelled to France to take part in a Conference at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Drain held meetings with President Paul Biya, Members of Parliament, and the main facilitators of the major national dialogue which took place from September 30 to October 4, aimed at providing a response to the crisis in the country’s English-speaking regions.

Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed France’s support for the implementation of the conclusions of the major national dialogue, notably with respect to decentralization.

The minister equally reaffirmed France’s support for Cameroon in the fight against terrorism, in particular with respect to the fight against the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

Le Drian also visited some infrastructure constructed with the support of the French government in the Littoral Region of Cameroon.

Hours into his visit, a photo of a letter, with a “Confidential Very Urgent’ stamp on it circulated on whatsapp, facebook and twitter. Reuters says a source at the port confirmed its authenticity. The Cameroon government has not reacted to this.

The October 23 letter allegedly signed by the secretary-general of the presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, asks  the Director General of Cameroon Ports Authority, Cyrus Ngo’o to “suspend works to finalize the terms of the (TIL) contract, until the final conclusion of the case.”

This September, Cameroon’s state media announced that, Switzerland’s Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) will take “over management of the Douala Port Container Terminal” from the Bollore group which has managed the sector since 2005.

Bollore lost to TIL ‪on January‬ 8, when a list of bidding companies for the management of the container terminal was published without the company’s name.

The decision was made despite a Douala Administrative Court’s request on August 16, 2019, that the award process be postponed.

Bolloré says since 2005 it has broadly invested in the terminal, in order to modernize the infrastructures, to increase the container storage areas, to acquire new equipments, and to optimize the terminal operating system.

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