The urban community of Douala has discovered the existence of fake building permits issued by unauthorized individuals, the Lord Mayor Roger Mbassa Ndine announced in a press release published last August 3.
In Cameroon, building permits are issued by government delegtaes (in the case of urban communities) and mayors (in the case of communes). It must be obtained before trying to build or modify a building. Roger Mbassa Ndine points out that Guichet unique de délivrance des actes d'urbanisme (one-stop shop for urban planning permits) is the sole body responsible for all matters relating to the issuance of building permits, as well as urban planning and conformity certificates. "No other intermediary is authorized to carry out related procedures," he says.
To this end, he warns the Urban Community of Douala’s staff against interfering or intermediating in the issuance of such documents. "Any agent who interferes in this process for any purpose whatsoever will be brought before the disciplinary board and prosecuted before the competent court, inter alia, for usurpation of title or function and forgery," the Lord Mayor warned in a memo published the same day as the press release.
To show his resolve in fighting against forged permits, he recently suspended a staff member from his duties. The suspended staff is accused of collecting CFAF50,000 from a property developer to help him secure a building permit. The accused, who was responsible for checking the admissibility of applications for urban planning certificates, allegedly handed a fake permit to the property developer. In his decision suspending the staff member, Roger Mbassa Ndine indicated that all those factors “justified the opening of a judicial inquiry against” the property developer and the staff member.
This sanction comes at a time when the government has called on mayors to ensure the unfailing application of urban planning regulations in cities, after the recent building collapses that caused dozens of deaths in Douala (around forty dead and several injured) and Ngaoundéré (four dead). The government claims that the main reason for these disasters was the non-compliance with current regulations.
On August 2, during an interministerial meeting that included the mayors of Douala and Ngaoudéré, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute instructed the unfailing application of regulations governing constructions. The same demand was made few days earlier by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Minhdu), Célestine Ketcha Courtès.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem