The town of Douala is situated in the estuary of the Wouri river, 50 km from the sea. It is an area of commercial activity since the 19th century when works were carried on there to permit trade between the coastal dwellers and traders form Hamburg and Brême.
As per certain sources, the area was first developed by a German sailing company “Woermanline” in 1881.
With the advent of the first world war that saw German colonies seized, access to the port of Douala was made possible for ships with -4.0 metres draft. The infrastructure consists of a Wharf of 60 metres a dock-shopping, seven private wharves, shops connected by a path of 60 meters. Bonabéri at this time, will be served by a dock-shopping 100 meters long. Well-equipped workshops and a dock Floating 900 tons complete. Annual traffic capacity is evaluated at 100 000 tonnes.
After the Germans surrendered, the first objectives of the French who henceforth became the masters extended the railway and equipped the Port of Douala. Extension works stopped in 1922. They at the same time organized activities that centered on specialized services of Ports and inland navigable ways under the colonial public works. That saw the beginning of the slow but sure setting up of institutions under French Administration.
At independence in 1960, this structure became the Department of Ports for Navigable Ways under the Ministry of Transport.
ONPC logo 1996 – 1999
This later on became the Cameroon National Ports Authority (ONPC) under the Federal Law of 1971.
This organisation functioned for almost 30 years before undergoing reforms based on the 1977 round table discussions.
All the partners engaged in port activities were then invited to brainstorm on concrete solutions so as to meet up with the exigencies of the atmosphere at the time. Precisely, it was to meet the challenges for the low demand of port services. Resolutions taken during these deliberations, reinforced by the recommendations of the FAL Committee helped to outline the government policy in that line. From there henceforth came into existence the law of 24th December 1988 outlining the new challenges of the port sector.
While being effectively put in place, the port reforms has as major items the law on orientation, 8 decrees of application that spelt out the new layout of Cameroon ports.
At the end reforms on the Cameroon National Ports Authority, a National Ports Authority (NPA) is amongst other things in charge of the elaboration and control of the application of norms on the port security. Together with Kribi, Limbe and Garoua, Douala has become has become one of the very big port authorities with prerogatives on the management and promotion of its services.
The Port Authority of Doula being a para-public has as mission the management of the Douala-Bonabéri, coordination of services available and the marketing strategy in the ports.
As per the law the Port cedes to enterprises of the private sector through bids come commercial and industrial activities: handling, management of the container terminal etc. Since 1999, the CCO of PAD has actively contributed to meet up with competition in port activities.