Urban bus project envisaged in Yaoundé to tackle traffic congestion

The pilot phase of the Yaoundé Rapid Bus Transit (BRT) project has been completed. The project according to council authorities will connect Olembe at the northern entrance of the capital to Ahala in the southern part, covering 22 km. This route was disclosed during a meeting held last on April 12 by the Urban Community of Yaoundé (CUY). The meeting aimed to review the project and outline the next steps for the city’s Green Mobility project (MoVe Yaoundé), launched on January 24, which seeks to establish a high-service bus system in the city.

With a total of 28 stops between the two ends, the first phase of the BRT is expected to transport up to 43,000 passengers per day, with a peak of 1,500 passengers per hour per direction. Estimates suggest that this transport network will reduce travel time between Olembe and Ahala from the current 80 minutes to 65 minutes. The CUY noted that “completion of the second phase should more than double these figures, with a capacity to serve 110,000 passengers per day and a flow of 4,000 passengers per hour per direction, utilizing 137 buses.”

Construction of the BRT is scheduled to start in 2026, with service expected to commence in 2028, “subject to securing the necessary funding,” according to the European Union (EU), which co-finances the MoVe Yaoundé project with France and Germany, at a total cost of CFA4.4 billion. The project is envisaged in a context marked by rapid population growth and spikes in air pollution, made worse by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the national vehicle fleet.

According to official data from 2018, the fleet predominantly included 190,000 motor vehicles, 35,000 motorcycles, 12,000 taxis, 35,000 moto-taxis, and 75 buses from Stecy—a defunct public transport company that succeeded “Le Bus.” Additionally, there were about 600 minibuses, with 400 serving the route between downtown and the university town of Soa. The transportation system in this area is often seen as unsafe and a leading cause of accidents. One major concern is the absence of sidewalks, which can make pedestrians feel vulnerable. Moto-taxis are considered a risky mode of transport for passengers, and taxi drivers are known to be fatigued and inattentive, further increasing the risk of accidents.

The BRT system is seen as a sustainable and effective solution to the mobility challenges faced by Yaoundé, a city with high population density and issues like congestion, pollution, and difficulty in moving around, which affect the city’s overall appeal. The project was announced in 2019 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (Minhdu) to provide a transportation system that caters to the needs of local users, enhances the quality of life of citizens, boosts economic activity, and ensures the safety of the population. It is part of a broader program aimed at modernizing the mobility sector, which includes restructuring the public transport network and implementing the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (Pmus) of the Urban Community of Yaoundé (CUY) by the year 2035.