Population growth fueling Buea’s chaotic sprawl

Viewed from whatever perspective, the advent of the University of Buea and other tertiary institutions adorning the upcoming city has had a very profound effect on its outlook. Buildings have sprouted like mushroom to cater to the needs of student influx, and by extension, businesses to service the needs of increased population.

While some of the buildings embellish the town with eye-catching aesthetics, the mode of construction in terms of location and respect for elementary town planning rules leave much to be desired. The blame for this calamitous situation is equally shared between unscrupulous and complicit Government functionaries and greedy landlords whose quest for fast money causes them to circumvent laid down statutes.

Contemporary with the above, Cameroon has a current wave of rapid and uncontrolled urban growth. As in other West African countries, the pace of urbanization has been very rapid for some years now. People migrate for mainly economic, political and social purposes. The population densities of some urban settings are rapidly becoming worrisome due to factors like the need for space to accommodate human activities and the availability of land. In Buea, these intervening variables in town planning present a number of planning challenges which must be addressed.

The introduction of secondary education and the presence of health facilities also act as pull factors for migrants. Most importantly, the creation of the University of Buea in 1993 and presence of other private universities marked a turning point in the urban growth process in Buea. This growth has brought along a host of challenges, including poor planning, poor housing construction,waste disposal problems, the absence of basic services, insecurity and the steady disappearance of forests. Buea, especially, Molyko has a very poor building plan. Houses are built precariously close to transformer poles.Others are planted on prospective thoroughfares. It is a pity that most of those who violate these construction rules are the keepers of the laws which therefore make it difficult for this situation to be resolved. One finds it very difficult to direct a person to a residence in Molyko due to congestion of houses.

Buea is not just any city; it is a historical capital. It should be an example for other Anglophone cities.To stem this poor planning, city authorities should conduct regular checks to ensure proper construction. Town planning regulations should be respected, development experts consulted and growth coordinated. Hopefully, the Government’s parroted‘Vision 2035’that has as challenge the need for urban development, regional development and environmental protection will take on board measures to ensure safe and sane cohabitation of people and buildings.

By*Atem Sherlyn Nguinchu

*U B journalism student on internship

Thunderstorm Leaves 30 Students unconscious

At least 30 students of the Government High School in Bepanda are on a recovery path after going unconscious following a heavy thunderstorm on Friday.

There was total confusion in the Bepanda neighbourhood in Douala V municipality as parents rushed to school to collect their children on Friday morning after being alerted of the scene.

The heavy downpour in the city of Douala that morning had brought with it thunder strikes leaving at least 20 students unconscious, most of whom were girls.

According to eyewitness reports, the thunder strike led to a short circuit in two of the buildings which led to light fire in the building sending most of the students into panic.

The affected students were immediately rushed to the Presbyterian Health Centre in Bepanda where they have been receiving treatment.

“We put them (the students) under serious medical care immediately they were brought here,”       the head of the health centre Dr. Chouamo Andre said.

At least 10 of the students were later diagnosed with asthma which most probably must have caused them to succumb to the thunder strikes, Dr.  Chouamo added.

“We discovered that many of them had developed an epileptic shock and some of them were asmathic,” he said.

48 hours after the incident, most of the students were in stable condition while some had been discharged but doctors said they will continue to be monitored for at least two weeks to ensure full recovery.

By Francis Ajumane

Southwest cultural jamboree promises world class funfair

The idea of an annual cultural jamboree in the Southwest Region has been easing its way to a permanent fixture as preparations approach fever pitch for the second edition slated for the month of December. In this light, the world will, from December 9 to 16, converge on Buea to be entertained by the people of the Region, who will be showcasing various cultural heritages.

Governor Okalia promising funfair at festival

This second edition comes after that which held in Kumba-Meme in 2015 with ‘Transmitting our Cultural Heritage to the Younger Generation: A Call for Mobilization,’ as theme.

Launching the 2017 edition of the event on Thursday, November 9, 2017 in Buea, Southwest Regional Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai said, he foresees the event being a great success. He said that it would be a golden opportunity for the Southwest to showcase its multicultural nature and prove to the nation and the world at large that they have a culture and an identity. He said that Southwesterners are peaceful, hospitable and friendly and so should come together; make the difference by welcoming people from all over the country and beyond.

“It is in our own interest to jealously preserve, promote, develop and transmit our rich cultural heritage. The culture of a people is their identity and without it, they are lost. Southwest should show the world who they are and not what others want them to be. I urge you to come together as a team and work for the sustainability of this event,” he appealed.

The cultural festival, which is the brainchild of the Southwest Regional Delegation of Arts and Culture will not only contribute in strengthening the unity if the Southwest people, it will also revive, preserve and transmit the people’s heritage to younger generations.

According to the Southwest Regional Delegate of Arts and Culture, Grace Ngoh Ewang, the festival is a forum created for the people to use in showcasing their culture. She advised that cultural events should begin being organized at all levels; Chiefdoms, Fondoms, Councils, Sub-Divisional, Divisional and let the Regional event be a grand come together.

Organisers of the Cultural Festival

She noted that, the event can also serve as a lobbying tool for both national and international investment for the preservation of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Southwest people.

Committees to coordinate various activities have been put in place; and this year will see the introduction of competitions like female canoe race, women’s choral music and traditional medicines, as some innovations.

Meantime, the Southwest Cultural Festival will be coming up after every two years, with hosting rights rotating among the six Divisions of the Region.

By Nester Asonganyi

New Wouri Bridge overwhelm by snarling traffic

Persistent traffic jams on the two bridges over Wouri River linking Bonaberi and Deido neighbourhoods in Douala have rubbished the economics and even politics of the new 800-metre long bridge that went operational barely a month ago. Government circles had touted the impression that the bridge on completion will spring up some solace to persistent traffic congestion, particularly, in the mornings and evenings when workers are going and returning from work.

The edifice that has been fully opened to vehicles is still far from meeting the people’s aspirations as long queues have been found throughout the day on and around the venue making movement and business around town slow.

At least 60,000 vehicles use the bridge daily, according to statistics from the Douala City Council. Throw in bikes and pedestrians in that lot and the situation becomes denser.

As early as 6am on a Monday morning, denizens are rushing to beat the traffic congestion in order to be early to work. Coming from Bonaberi, traffic is smooth until you hit a snag on the bridge. Taxis tussle with each other to get access while bikes sneak past the pedestrian footpaths all to beat the traffic on the bridge. Trucks heading or leaving the seaport as well as those leaving the industrial zone in Bonaberi are all in the mix.

“We have been on this bridge for one hour now and nothing seems to be moving. This time I am wasting here is money I am losing and I am not sure I will be able to meet up with my financial expectations at the end of the day,” Sani, a taxi driver stuck in the traffic on a Monday morning says.

However, the traffic is an opportunity for bikers to make brisk business due to their flexibility and ability to negotiate tiny bends in order to sneak out of the traffic. The distance between Bonaberi and Rond Point which averagely costs FCFA 250 is no cheaper than five hundred francs upward.

“The traffic is an opportunity for us to make a lot of money and we charge a lot because it is too risky. You can easily be crushed by one of these trucks in the traffic while trying to take a bend,” Gilbert Bena, a biker trying to beat the traffic says.

The traffic has not left the Governor of the Littoral Samuel Ivaha Diboua indifferent as he has been forced to make a stop on several occasions on the site for personal assessment.

“We hope the road users can help make the situation easier by driving responsibly.  If we are all in a hurry and want to pass at the same time, there is bound to be traffic and in the end we will blame the police for not doing their duty,” the Governor cautioned.

The situation is fluid in the day but it is back to business after work hours as workers struggle to beat the traffic to get back home. For how long will they continue like this in Douala?

A flyover to decongest the bridge

The cup will only be half empty if you suffocate on the bridge without moving forward. Just after the bridge, technicians work even at night constructing a flyover that should decongest the traffic on the bridge.

Though access is forbidden on the site, a worker who spoke on condition of anonymity says the flyover will direct traffic as vehicles moving to the seaport will be redirected from those going straight to the rest of the town.

Built at an estimated cost of 139, 5 billion FCFA, the bridge is expected to decongest traffic from all trucks from the industrial zone in Bonaberi, as well as vehicles coming from the Southwest, West and North Regions.

It is equally a strong link between goods from the Douala seaport to the rest of the Central African sub region.

By Francis Ajumane

Mungwin: grasshopper hunting that defies danger, flavours diets

Amid danger of being accidentally killed by oncoming vehicles or falling in gutters, inhabitants of the Northwest Region of Cameroon have engaged in frenzy occasioned by the lure of “Mungwin”, a light-chasing green seasonal grasshopper that has over time served as supplement and flavour to most of their diets.

To this effect, locals there are making amazing treasures out of green grasshoppers. The hopping insect known in local parlance as “mungwin” has become either supplementary or indispensable as it forms partof or whole meals.

Green grasshoppers are flying insects that set in during October and disappear by December. Their naturally green colour turns brown when cooked for eating. The hunting of this insect is common in localities like Bali, Bamenda Bambili, Bambui, Babanki and Chomba. For people who cherish eating green grasshoppers, they eat them in varied forms in various combinations such as mungwin/corn fufu, mungwin/bread, mungwin/sweet-yams, mungwin/fried-plantain, mungwin/cocoyams.

Grasshoppers, locally called ‘Mungwin’

In some cases, others eat green grasshoppers exclusively without necessarily combining with other foods. Divine Foy, is a constable who works with a telecommunication company. He expressed that “During mungwin season, I eat mungwin at least twice a week in place of roast cow meat. Mungwin has its season which if you miss eating it, you have missed but other forms of meat would always be available. I like it because it is delicious and I know that it has nutritional benefits even if I don’t know the specific nutrients it contains.”

In the opinion of Robert Munga, retired civil servant, mungwin has no bones and it is easy to chew “I like eating green grasshoppers because it is very easy to chew. The insect tastes so good and has a lot of natural oil even though it is not cooked with oil. I see it like meat without bones.  I don’t really consider eating it as food but I just consume it as a chewable. I cannot deny eating it because I have seen other people enjoying it.”

It is also funny to note that some people dislike green grasshoppers because they regard it inferior. Brunhilda Bih Bong, is one of those who think that “green grasshoppers are similar to cockroaches and ants. I cannot eat something that flies around and creeps on the ground. I just pity people who eat them because they have not bothered to find out whether it is harmful to the system or not,” she complained. The green grasshoppers could be spotted along streets and in markets sold in minute quantities at minimum FCFA 100 and in buckets at FCFA 2,500.

Hunters of green grasshoppers trap the insects at night with the use of white florescent lamps, corrugated roofing sheets and basins of water. The trap is set in a way that the lamp attracts the insects. The insect flies around the lamp and settles on the corrugated sheet. The corrugated sheets are set in the form of a slope, so when the insect settles on the metal, it slides into the basin of water and the hunting is complete. After hunting, the hunter treats it as desired. It is either sold to consumers or consumed by the hunter. Health experts have revealed that green grasshoppers are nutritious and healthy because they are rich in protein and minerals and lower in cholesterol than beef or pork.

By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum

Mangrove ecosystems attract 16 M dollar windfall

Biodiversity conservation in Cameroon that has always been paid lip service by Government appears to be experiencing an upward review in perception following a recently concretized agreement between the Government of Cameroon under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection and some foreign partners putting in place a four-year programme worth over 16 million Dollars at the Bakassi Peninsular.

The rationale of the project inheres in a felt need for conservation and improved management of the Bakassi ecosystems through integrated ecosystem management and valuation.The coming  into being of the programme has, also, been necessitated by the fact that Bakassi harbours 50 percent of Cameroon’s mangrove swamp forest.

Administrators and environment family

The importance of Mangrove ecosystems cannot be overemphasized. They are of high significance for the regulation and stabilization of coastal ecosystems and constitute a major resource for local and Regional development. However, Cameroon’s mangrove and coastline ecosystems like any other mangrove in the world are subject to many threats such as economic pressure (agro-industrial expansion, exploration and exploitation of hydro-carbon, artisanal logging, unsustainable fish harvesting), and urban expansion.Which is why, the project, Participative Integrated Ecosystems Service Management Plan for Bakassi Post conflict Ecosystems- PINESMAP-BPCE, officially launched in Buea recently, is divided into three components; institutional and stakeholder capacity building, participative and inclusive development and implementation of IESMP and knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation to solve the problem.

Considering that there is a very high level of pollution associated with these activities related to the fragility and high sensitivity of these important ecosystems, the Cameroon Government is a signatory to many international conventions and is taking measures to implement these conventions locally. The implementation of the tools and agreement as well as the preparation of Cameroon for future financial mechanisms led to the development of the project for conservation and participatory management of mangrove ecosystems. This is also with a view to strengthening the protection, conservation and development of these mangroves ecosystems. The project activities are to be implemented within the Bakassi Peninsular which constitute 50 percent of Cameroon’s mangrove and found in Ndian Division in the Southwest Region of Cameroon.

As stated by Adamou Bouhari, Task Manager, Biodiversity/Land Degradation, West Africa Sub-Regional Office, representing the UN, the main objective of the project is to develop participative, inter-graded ecosystem service and management plan which includes all the related activities whether environmental, socio economical aspect which will identify the key priority actions to be taken in and planned within a period of 10 and 15 years. He added that, within the frame work of inter-graded ecosystem management plan, all the activities which are going to benefit communities, environment and the Government of Cameroon in terms of legal sustainable capacity building will be included. One of the strategies according to him is working with those who are knowledgeable about mangrove management and the local communities, because they are the ones using the mangrove resources to smoke fish to help domestic needs. Therefore, in order to conserve the mangroves, everything has to be done in a participative way, providing an alternative to the community since they are already using the mangroves.

According to Ngendoh Zedekiah Sanga, Project Coordinator, the project is coming in as a tool or mechanism by the Government to assist the protection of mangrove ecosystem which is known to be highly endangered because of the importance of the mangrove ecosystem in terms of the local services it provides o the community ensuring sustainability in the communities.

Officially launching the program, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, averred the project is going to benefit the beneficiaries. According to him, the workshop which is preparation for the 2018 first year of the project is of relevance because it helps to create a common understanding and support of projects, and develop the plan for 2018 which will be submitted for approval. He said, the task which lies ahead of the committee is huge and will require total commitment. He urged them to come out with positive and prodigious contributions, assuring them that the Government is relying on the committee.

By Relindise Ebune

Troops bloody reunification anniversary

For two days running guns coughed, they smoked. Yet, determined, albeit, foolhardy angry protesters surged on. Uncountable teargas canisters emitted from the coughing guns, pellets popped out and protesters lay in cold blood… their own blood. Gunboat helicopters hovered over West Cameroonian skies, occasionally spewing bullets at targets. Victims fell; mothers and other relatives wailed and grieved. Mortuaries received morbid tenants aplenty. State authority was prevailing, having the upper hand. Elsewhere, ‘politicians of convenience’ hailed the ‘indivisibility’ of the country and demonized ‘adventurers out to undermine national unity.’ Parliamentarians performed road shows; they hailed the head of state. They outplayed one another in pledging unflinching support for His Excellency’s rare brand of good governance. They entreated the ‘natural candidate’ to run in next year’s presidential polls.

As we went to press, security goons drafted to the two Regions to halt secessionists in their tracks were retreating piecemeal, having ostensibly delivered on their assigned task of keeping secessionists at bay and ensuring that the peace which the nation must ‘continue to enjoy’ prevails. Hundreds, including a pregnant woman, many teenagers and those we can sincerely refer to as human cargo, some very badly injured badly were admitted to pre-trial detention in Buea… The Rambler may not be in possession of exact casualty figures, but, we can state on good authority that they are, by and large, staggering, too shocking, and too gruesome to commit to print.

However, we have dispassionate reports of how October 1 was lived in the two English Regions of Cameroon.

Over the last 12 months, Cameroon has been in the throes of unprecedented civil strife underpinned by callousness, irreverence to human life and coldness from Government, resoluteness, and barefaced bravado from Anglophone agitators who although disparate in their vision of a better Cameroon find unanimity in common enemy – gangrened governance. Contacted, a public affairs analyst that would rather remain nameless noted that a people-centred Government would have curbed the current crisis at its infancy and spared the nation of extremely friendly citizens, the horror and shame that now dangle on its corporate image.


The analyst was of the opinion that the socio-political logjam in which Cameroon finds herself could have been briskly and amicably disposed of since 2016 if the very fundamental concerns that were raised by Common Law lawyers in mid-November of that year and later teachers were given due and sincere attention.

“If maybe, just maybe the issues were looked upon as fundamental for the proper functioning of the society, and not as issues that concern only ‘second class citizens’ and hence, given second class treatment, we would not have been where we are today.

“Things were poorly handled by corrupt and greedy power mongering public officials and cunning politicians; things degenerated and today, we are no longer talking of teachers’ or lawyers’ problems. We are talking of people who are now threatening the territorial integrity of the country. Like the saying, ‘better late than never’ all cards could still be put on the table, with no one trying or pretending to be more Cameroonian than the other because, whichever view, whoever holds, is worth hearing as even the deaf and the dumb have their own story.

“The long and short is, lots of waters have passed under the bridge, within the last 10 months of crisis in this part of the country. Lives have been carelessly lost, property destroyed, businesses ruined, the economy shattered, education disrupted, courts grounded with justice for the common man compromised and life in general rendered desolate.”

From this reporter’s observation, despite the intransigence on both sides; despite the “ghost towns,” occasional brutal crackdowns and the propaganda of Face book activists and other dissidents in retreat, life was gradually returning to normal with many hoping for the blinding dust of the one year long imbroglio to settle.

Many a Cameroonian from across the political divide was hoping for the Government dialogue sing song to eventually see the light of day, no matter how long it took. But the Government went to sleep, hoping against the odds for the agitators to tire out and give up. This strategy turned out to be a very poor political strategy with the bubble eventually bursting.

The Friday, September 22, incidents gave a new but ugly impetus to the issue. Until now, no one had been able to say with exactitude who, where, why, and how the wind which blew that day in the entire Northwest and Southwest Regions came about; but what registered was that the young, the old, children, men and women in Anglophone Cameroon took to the streets demanding for what they termed freedom or the liberation of Southern Cameroons by occupation forces. Prodded by activists in the safety of the Diaspora, protesters confronted armed security goons. Even though the gun-toting soldiers were practically overwhelmed by the surging crowds from all the nooks and crannies of the English speaking Regions, quite a good number of the protesters paid the ultimate price.

Otherwise boastful local administrators are known to have shown a clean pair of heels. President Biya’s rare outing at the United Nations Organization, UNO, paled into insignificance. It was dimmed by spontaneous protests back home and the Diaspora. A rented crowd of cheerleaders planted by regime spin doctors at the New York Headquarters of the UN paled out, compared to the milling multitudes that protested the leadership of the man that has ruled Cameroon uninterrupted for 34 years and counting.

Ekona, a small locality along the Buea-Kumba highway, just like in many other towns and villages of the Southwest and Northwest Regions initially paid the price of having the guts to protest or rise against the regime. Soldiers’ bullets sent many to early graves. Rather belated arrests and torturing started, with security goons breaking into homesteads, dragging out and subjecting random victims to unprintable forms of torture.

The Rambler possesses, but has elected not to publish the names of several victims who died as a result. Plus other maimed individuals that are most likely never going to have a normal life ever. Ekona has known no peace as the people have vowed to resist Government oppression while Government too is poised to clamp down on the people. A situation, an analyst has described as Government’s lack of good advisers on how to handle violence. The analyst however, warns Government to desist from reacting to violence with violence. As he put it, “violence plus violence equal to violence.”

The persistence and intensification of the crisis on Thursday, September 28 prompted the summoning of a meetingin Buea by Southwest elite. Ostensibly at the behest of President Biya, the meeting sought to among other issues, jumpstart the effective implementation of the 1996 constitution which will enable each Region to be autonomous. This step, they believed would calm the flaring tempers especially of Cameroonians west of the Mungo.

By September 29, the Southwest Regional governor read the riot act. Purporting to be acting on instructions from above, he closed land and sea borders with neighbouring Nigeria. He, like his counterpart of the Northwest Region imposed a dusk to dawn curfew with respective durations. Hundreds of troops with military armada in tow, took over every street corner. Even church services were logically banned from holding on Sunday October 1.

Internet connectivity was once again surreptitiously ordered to be cut off from the two Anglophone Regions, ostensibly to deter coordinated protests and other action that could compromise troops movement and operations. But even these actions, including the intimidating movement of troops and armada did not quite deter foolhardy secessionists from taking the plunge. Many of them, contrary to Communication Minister’s cooked records are known to have been decently shot and killed. Still, others were maimed. Hundreds more, including youths of both sexes are being held in detention facilities, some of them improvised.

On the other hand, riotous protesters either burnt or destroyed some public property and surreptitiously hoisted Ambazonian flags, which, The Rambler learnt, constituted a “symbolic declaration of Statehood.”

In the course of this melee, law makers were posing for cameras in Yaounde, reeling out condemnations and platitudes, hailing and praising the head of state. After many decades of treating October 1 as though this was an avoidable, untouchable leprous on the political calendar of Cameroon, flunkies and strategists filed out in towns like Yaounde, Douala and Sangmelima in convenient regalia to “commemorate” the day when two fraternal entities reunited. But mind you, this did little or nothing to mitigate the loss of precious lives, property and perhaps trust at the level of Buea and Bamenda.

By Nester Asonganyi

Another Lebialem landslide kills 2

The need for serious Government intervention to stem the tide of frequent landslides in Lebialem Division in the Southwest Region has acquired emergency status sequel to another calamity that has hit the vicinity, leaving two dead and others injured, barely a month after a similar occurrence.

The incident which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, September 16, in Nkah, a village in Fontem Sub-Division, is coming after another last August, in Wabane Sub-Division, that deprived residents of farmlands, homes and other property.

The incident is said to have occurred following continuous torrential rains that characterized the area lately. The Morfaw family which is affected is said to have been asleep when the hill collapsed and killed two kids in their bedroom. Mr. Morfaw aka Ndippe, is a professional photographer. He was also seriously injured alongside his wife and five other children who are currently hospitalized.

It would be recalled that, it was only in July that a chief in Esso- Attah, Fontem Sub-Division was swept away by a stream that overflowed its banks and till date, his body or corpse has not been recovered.

Lebialem, is a hilly area and therefore prone to such natural disasters and so, it is only advisable that its inhabitants take certain precautions into consideration before setting up any structure or building. It was also high time Government did something to ameliorate or ease life for the people of that Division; because they do not only have a tough terrain to battle with, more importantly, there is no passable road connecting it to the rest of the country.

By Nester Asonganyi

Kumba gets HYSACAM Company 11 years after

The city of Kumba will from the September, 15 2017 gets a new face and image as regards streets sweeping, waste collection and disposal.

In a joined press released signed by the senior divisional officer  for Meme Chamberlain Ntou’ou Ndong and Government Delegate to Kumba City council Victor Ngoh Nkelle announcing the presence and effective start of work in Kumba on the above cited date, that  equally calls on collaboration from city dwellers.

The city of Kumba for the past years have being on every media outlet denouncing its dirty and filthy nature for a town that carries the status of city. In fact administrators have come and gone, city council sessions upon sessions sourcing for ways to curb the issue was too no avail as the city was almost turned to a refuse dump.

It is thanks to media reports climbing down on the city council for almost turning its own building and the grand stand to a market, commercial motor bike park and waste dump that the city council reacted and till now they can enjoy fresh breath in their offices following media recommendations.

Since his appointment and installation as SDO for Meme, Chamberlain Ntou’ou Ndong has been hard on the Government Delegate and the mayors of Kumba I, II, and III on the hygiene and sanitation situation of the town. In fact it was after the last session of the city council in May that the Government Delegate after receiving blames for the poor state of the grandstand that current renovations were made.

The trumpet blowing about the coming of HYSACAM Company to Kumba had been so rampant that the melody became boring to the ears given that it was same song year in year out. Finally the people of Kumba were relieved when in June 2017, during the SDO first contact tour to Kumba I, the Government Delegate announced that all necessary documents to bring HYSACAM to Kumba had been agreed on but for 45millionFRS CFA to be paid by City Council as part of the agreement that was delaying.

The people of Kumba might have received the coming of this waste management company to Kumba with  joy though 11 years after its starting working in Yaoundé and Douala, 7 years after an urban town like Buea but critics hold that HYSACAM will just be able to do away with house hold waste but the streets will still be filtered with mud, this is because first of all the city does not have tarred streets so no matter how many times the tarred high way is swept, there will still be mud and dust in the street. Others are even of the opinion that the city council might end up wasting money on workers who will have little or no work to do.

By Ngende Esther

Council promoting ‘lucrative’ congestion in Motor Park

Ever since former Buea Municipality Mayor Mbella Moki Charles, Christened the city “Town of Legendary Hospitality,” many negative issues have cropped up to sully the image of the town that is arguably the fastest growing in Cameroon. At one moment it is lop-sided refuse disposal but before one pronounces Ekema Patrick, it reverts to roads into some neighbourhoods not receiving any requisite attention, while existing paved ones are exposed to accelerating deterioration.

And since everything in Buea is legendary, the new fad is legendary congestion emanating from skewed appreciation of aesthetics that now permits the desire to put a fast buck in the pocket to take precedence over felt needs and embellishment of the city. This is exemplified by a slapdash occupation of spaces in Clerks Quarters and the Mile 17 Motor Park.

All this is happening at a time when Buea is unarguably one of the top racers towards the dream year when Cameroon talks of emergence by 2035. Buea is becoming more developed as years pass by, with beautiful structures and booming businesses which have made many Cameroonians, especially, business gurus, flood this town, because of alluring atmosphere (physical and material) and huge business opportunities. Administrators in Buea, especially, the council, physically show intentions of sailing this town into emergence, but on the flip side of this, some of these developments might have been redefined by such administrators, and in the process, tempered with the legendary beauty of beatific Buea.

At the Mile 17 Municipal Motor Park, business structures are erected on every green space which has led to ‘legendary congestion.’ After clogging the town with small boutiques on every street corner, Mile 17 Park is now the main target of the Council, where these profit making structures are built haphazardly on every minimal space. Buses and other cars now get stuck for hours at the park, especially during peak periods, scrubbing each other and forcing themselves in between people, in order to find frees pace to move. The current situation is aggravated by heavy down pour of rain as most of these buildings at the park lack proper drainage systems with water directed to the road and entrances of agencies, forming deep, dirty water pools.

These poorly directed gullies have channeled running water into wrong destinations, thereby destroying the little tarred roads in the park and creating too many potholes, which in turn, infringe on vehicular movement and road worthiness, leading to more congestion.

With the poor road condition, especially, at the entrance of the travel agencies, Aba Samuel, who uses the passage on a regular basis, said it is almost impossible to get to the agency on foot, since the road is very muddy. “Today before I got here, I had to hire a taxi which could get me right into the door of the agency which was very costly.’’ He said, before now, the park used to have enough space and ventilation, but now, too many buildings have been constructed, which is not a bad thing, but has led to too many disadvantages.

This reporter, also, met a meat vendor at the park whose only name we got as Aladji. He complained that they do not have space to carry on with business. “We were sent out from our former business places and now we are only squeezing ourselves by the road and since we do not have enough money to pay rents for the big structures, we are left to suffer.”

The congestion in the park is growing everyday, especially as these buildings have taken almost all space for mobility and with the recent upgrade of agencies necessitating big long and luxurious buses, demands for space heightens. These beautiful and luxurious buses find it difficult to manage tight spaces and bad roads at the park, which leaves the buses at the mercy of potential damage from bad roads and exposure to insecurity.

According to Muambo Collins, an agency worker, on certain days, buses taking off usually interrupt those arriving, which creates chaos because, there isn’t enough space for the two buses to bypass each other, meaning that one would have to reverse, creating even more traffic congestion for long hours, in the process.

However, some denizens think it is not a bad idea building enhanced structures at the park. The Rambler caught up with Rose Mary, a bar attendant here, who expressed satisfaction relating to the state of the park.

“I think the structures being constructed are beautiful and would give the park a better look. Also, it is a good idea by the council to provide better shelters for businesses rather than road side selling.’’

By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred