Interview with Lydienne Mouloby Ngalle Bibehe, CEO of SOCATUR in Douala (Cameroon)

CODATU News Tuesday 5 March 2019

When she came last week at CODATU, Lydienne MOULOBY NGALLE BIBEHE, CEO of SOCATUR (the Cameroonian urban transport society) in Douala (Cameroon) kindly accepted to tell us about SOCATUR and mobility issues in Douala. We deeply thank her.

CODATU: What are the major issues of urban mobility in Douala today and for the future?

Lydienne Ngalle Bibehe: Douala is the gateway to Cameroon, the economic capital and Cameroon’s largest port. It is over three million inhabitants on 6 districts. The agglomeration is headed by a delegate of the government known as the Government Delegate to the Douala Urban Community. Since the liberalization of transportation in 1995, there have been various experiments, which the most successful is SOCATUR. Paratransit (motorcycle taxis, illegal « cargo » minibuses, shared taxis, etc.) is highly developed. The proliferation of transport modes has led to traffic congestion but also serious air pollution issues. The urban transport competence belongs to the Douala Urban Community that should speak more about the right to mobility and do everything it to ensure it. The challenge is to modernize Douala transports to comply with international standards and to create a positive identity to our city. In this regard, we need fist to reinvigorate high capacity modes that is the bus. Paratransit customers will then turn to this efficient and comfortable mode, and with the new balance in the various modes, solutions to professionalize paratransit and to ensure intermodality will emerge. This reconfiguration should be conducted in a concerted approach.

CODATU: Can you introduce SOCATUR? 

Lydienne Ngalle Bibehe: SOCATUR is a semi-public company, with the Douala Urban Community, 6 districts and private operators as shareholders (33% local authorities, 67% private operators), which provides urban transport in the urban community with in theory an exclusive jurisdiction. We have 300 employees, 100 buses, 60 of which currently in operation and some 40 waiting for repairs. A dozen lines are exploited, thirty are identified. Urban transportation is a loss-making activity so SOCATUR is financially supported by the State and the Douala Urban Community. A ticket costs 150 CFA and a new ticket must to be taken in case of change. Tickets are distributed by a driver-seller. Rolling stock mainly consists of AGORA and R312 (IVECO), and a few other brands.

CODATU: What are your needs and projects at SOCATUR?

Lydienne Ngalle Bibehe: SOCATUR is looking for networks that could sell good quality second-hand vehicles, less than 10 years old, to reduce pollution and fuel consumption, especially in anticipation of the CAN 2021, or possibly new vehicles whose prices would correspond to our financial possibilities (more information is available in the document attached at the end of the article).

We are also looking for networks with spare parts stocks of R312 and AGORA buses that they could sell us. Finally, we are looking for automotive oil suppliers, because we are not satisfied by the price and quality of what we find locally.

SOCATUR is also looking for mechanics, electricians or electromechanical technicians, to rehabilitate the rolling stock, to offer staff training sessions.

In the longer term SOCATUR is undertaking a vast develoment program in Douala. We have to ensure the opening of the 30 lines. For this purpose, we need about 300 vehicles by 2021 to provide the mobility of tourist populations during the CAN 2021 and then.

CODATU: A message for CODATU members? 

Lydienne Ngalle Bibehe: We appreciate that CODATU is developing useful activities on the ground. The MobiliseYourCity program is funding the technical studies for the future Urban Mobility Plan under development that will provide a vision on the development of mobility. The « Bus for Africa » ​​program will be useful for our future bus acquisition projects. Finally, I hope I can come to the next CODATU Conference in Dakar in November 2020 and meet the other stakeholders!

More info here: SOCATUR presentation [Fr]