Railway gets World Bank funding

The World Bank is allocating funds totalling 15.6 billion FCFA (just over US $22 million) to Camrail, the Cameroonian railway company announced in a news release on Wednesday.

The funds, which come three years after Camrail's privatisation, will be "a breath of fresh air" to existing projects, Camrail reported. They are to go towards the "modernisation and rehabilitation of the railway infrastructure and rolling stock," the release said.

To fully modernise the network, a further 62 billion FCFA (US $82.6 million) is needed, Camrail said, adding that this would be covered partly through its own funds and partly through loans. The European Investment Bank has already agreed to a loan of 7.9 billion FCFA and two Cameroonian banks have offered 2.9 billion FCFA, the utility said.

Priority areas include rehabilitation of 263 km of track, the overhaul of 21 train engines, 220 freight and 42 passenger carriages. Environmental improvements are also included in the rail project, Camrail said, including trying to reduce pollution levels in the central town of Belabo, Douala in the southwest, Ngaoundere in the north and Yaounde, the capital.

Trains are an important link from Yaounde to Ngaoundere, some 1000 km to the northeast, especially since the road network is defective and other forms of public transport are limited.