CAMRAIL'S Top Officials Bail Their Heads Out At 70 Millions Francs To Regain Freedom From The Eseka Court

Didier Vandenbon former DG of CAMRAIL

Officials of the Cameroon Railway Corporation(CAMRAIL), were recently summoned to the Eseka Court of First Instance, to answer for allegations of the October 21st 2016 accident, that killed close to a hundred people.

Sources say among those summoned was the former French Director General Didier Vandenbon, who resigned on Friday June 9, 2017 on account that he wanted to be free to attend to all legal proceedings regarding the case.

They were kept in custody for some few hours, and were only released after paying a 70 Million F CFA(Seventy Million Francs) caution into the State treasury. Meanwhile they have been banned from leaving Cameroon until the case is over.

On Friday Oct. 21st 2017, after the main highway linking Douala and Yaounde collapsed, blocking circulations passengers went to the Yaounde train station, where they boarded train No. 52 to Douala. With the number of stranded passengers that had doubled due to the collapsed road, Camrail took advantage to make more money, by overloading its wagons,  some of which were brakes faulty.

No one would have complained if the train landed safely in Douala, but things went completely wrong, as the locomotive lost control in Eseka, with some wagons cutting of and falling into the valley, killing over 70 persons and wounding more than 400.

Cameroon's Head of State President Paul Biya created an Enquiry Commission, headed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang, to investigate the cause of the accident, and report back to him.

On November 29 2016, the Commission announced that they had finished their investigations, after auditioning Officials of Camrail, Ministers of Transport and Public Works, as well as the conductors of the train, and have transmitted their findings and report to President Biya who will make the necessary proclamations.

On May 23rd 2017, after seven months of waiting on the Presidency, a press released signed by the Minister Secretary General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, publishing the facts and findings of Prime Minister Yang's Committee.

The enquiry report concluded that the main reason why the train's coaches overturned was 'over speeding' (96 kmlh) on a rail section with an 'extremely low speed limit' (40 km/h) as well as a steep slope and several sharp bends. 

According to the experts, such over speeding is due to CAMRAIL's 'non-observance of some safety rules'. Indeed, Train No. 152, which was put into service that very day, had major abnormalities and defects, notably:
 - overloading of the train and undue extension of the brake; 
- use of passenger coaches several of which had defective braking systems; 
- use of a motor carriage whose rheostatic braking system was not in working order; 
- no proper pre-departure inspection in Yaounde of the rake's brake continuity; and 
- refusal by hierarchy to take into account the reservations expressed by the train driver about the above mentioned abnormalities and defects. 

The Commission of Enquiry also concluded that the capacity of Government services to conduct rescue operations during disasters must be enhanced for greater responsiveness, coherence and fluidity and for better victim management.

On its part, Camrail challenged the reports from the government, but their opposition claims had no concrete background to over rule that from the Presidency, and that was how individuals and government dragged Camrail to court.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general information purposes only. They do not constitute our legal or professional advice. Readers are advised not to act on the basis of the information contained herein alone. Every situation depends on its own facts and circumstances. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein without consulting a professional legal practitioner.

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