YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — Chinese workers have abandoned road construction and mining exploration sites in northern Cameroon in the wake of last month’s kidnapping of 10 workers by suspected Boko Haram rebels.
Cameroon’s government halted construction of a new highway after most Chinese workers, raising concerns about their safety, left the area, the country’s minister of public works told VOA.
"How can we explain the fact that the growth and development of a country can stop because of this kind of action?” Patrice Ambassala said of the attacks.
The minister told VOA he suspended construction of the Ngaoundere-Kousseri highway, intended to link Cameroon’s capital city of Yaounde and Chad’s capital of N’djamena. He said the suspension will deal a serious blow to the project, funded by the African Development Bank and the European Union.
The Ministry of Defense and National Security have to restore security, Ambassala said, to regain the confidence of companies and their employees "to work without any fear."
The Chinese ambassador to Cameroon, Wo Ruidi, said he discussed the issue with the speaker of Cameroon's national assembly, Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, seeking an update on negotiations for release of the 10 Chinese workers kidnapped May 16 from the country’s north.
In the raid, suspected members of the Nigerian Islamist group forced their way into the Chinese camp in Waza, kidnapping the workers and stealing 10 vehicles along with a container of explosives.
Wo Ruidi said he discussed the kidnappings, adding that the assembly speaker said Cameroon was negotiating for the workers release.
The vice speaker of China’s parliament plans a Cameroon soon to find out more about the negotiations, Wo told VOA, adding the two countries must reinforce cooperation at the level of their national assemblies.