Burkinabe citizens demand Bolloré group cedes management rights of local railway

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Responding to the collective Burkina 2050’s call to march, hundred of demonstrators rallied in the streets of Ouagadougou. They protested against the management of local railway Sitrail by French group Bolloré, on Thursday.

Hundreds of people demonstrated against French group Bolloré in the capital of Burkina Faso, on Thursday. They denounced "a flawed" management of local Sitarail railway by the group.

The French Bolloré group is the main shareholder of the railway. The Burkina 2050 collective demanded the group be stripped of its managing role, citing the group’s inability to commit to its word as stated by the framework agreement Bolloré group signed.

The deal planned the repair, the building as well as the exploitation of the railway connecting Abidjan to Kaya and Tambao, two Burkine cities.

The railway was first opened in the early 1900 by the French colonizer and connected Ivory Coast to Burkina Faso. When the West African countries gained independence, national companies managed the Sitarail. However, in 1994, it was privatized on the advice of the World Bank. French group Bolloré eventually became its manager.

Nestorine Sangaré, the coordinator of Consortium Burkina 2050 and former minister insisted on Thursday: "We want Bolloré to cede his management rights since he cannot sell Sitarail because it belongs to the Burkinabe state."

Failure to honor commitments

Since the Bolloré group started managing Sitarail it has signed many concession agreements. One of the latest was signed in 2016 under which the group vowed to start the work on the railway in 2019.

Consortium Burkina 2050 suspects the firm did not undertake the work because the Bolloré group heard of the launching of another railway connecting Burkina Faso to Ghana and feared for the cost-effectiveness of its own project.

The new Burkinabe authorities have yet to settle the argument. A Change petition has collected 9,000 signatures. It urges the new authorities to terminate the deal with the French group since the firm has not refunded the Burkina state nor met all of its commitments.

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