Power outage hits Douala business hub after fire incident

Business in Cameroon | Douala’s administrative and commercial hub has been without electricity since the early hours of May 2, 2024. In a statement released the same day, Eneo revealed that the cause of this disruption was a fire incident at a lumber depot in Ndogsimbi, located in the third district of the economic capital.

According to the power utility, the fire damaged a section of the Logbaba-Koumassi transmission line, forcing the National Electricity Transport Company (Sonatrel) to shut down the Koumassi substation. This blackout affects several neighborhoods in the first and second districts of Douala, namely Akwa, Bonanjo, Bonapriso, Bali, New-Bell, Babylon, and surrounding areas.

Eneo stated that repair works, expected to last an average of 72 hours, were scheduled to commence in the early hours of May 3. An internal source revealed that Sonatrel is demanding payment of outstanding bills owed by Eneo, a subsidiary of the British investment fund Actis, to finance the repairs.

By the end of 2023, Eneo’s debt to the public electricity transporter was estimated at CFA125.6 billion. When questioned, the electricity distributor admitted its incapacity to clear the debt with Sonatrel. “We are compelled by a garnishment notice issued by the General Tax Directorate on January 22, 2024, to redirect any payment intended for Sonatrel to the tax administration,” explained our source.

Faced with this impasse, Eneo has proposed to Sonatrel to carry out the repairs and deduct the costs from the debt owed to the public electricity transporter. As of now, Sonatrel has not responded to this proposal.

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