Prostitution: Scourge or source of solace

BY MBAH MARIE TIMBEN, MBANCHIG SHARON ENGOE

Some refer to it as the oldest profession in the world and see no reason why it should not be legalized and a professional deontology affixed to its practice as it is the case in some advanced countries. Others, especially governments in developing countries and religious bodies see it as an epitome of woes and tribulation in societies advancing towards modernism.

Whatever the angle from which it is viewed prostitution is simply paid sex- without any emotional attachment. The reason women and sometimes men engage in this nauseating enterprise (depending on the part of this sinful world it is being considered) range from poverty, lasciviousness and penchant for unaffordable frivolities.  

According to Philemon a science student, prostitution is when someone engages sex in exchange for money. From his prism, men and women practice this act of prostitution in our current society. Prostitution in the society he continues is caused by so many reasons. Firstly, some girls who are schooling face difficulties in buying handouts, payment of house rents and their personal needs turn to engage in such act so as to get money to meet up with needs or wants. Most times, men are also paid for prostituting not because they don’t have job but because they get pay for it. These men engage into such acts and earn the names < SUGAR DADDY>, and girls <SUGAR MUMMY>.

 One of the results of, prostitution is loss of self esteem and dignity. There is also the spread of so many sexually transmitted diseases like HIV AIDS, Gonorrheal, and virginal itching for women. The major way in which the government can use to eradicate or reduce the rate of prostitution in the society is by creating jobs for girls especially, those who are graduates or hold conferences to sensitize the youth about prostitution and its effect. By so doing, youths will change or deviate from such acts. Men and women out there should be counselled to embrace self employment or entrepreneurship. Self employment means you can get engage in petty trading businesses. We don’t need to wait on the government to give us job but to be self employed.

PHILEMON SCIENCE STUDENT

Prostitution is the act of sleeping with all kind of men and women in search for money. Prostitution here is like a profession not something for pleasure but aims at making money. Many girls here do it not engage in it because they enjoy or like it but because of money. According to her, the reason why girls get in to prostitution is because they were raped and because of that, they feel they don’t have that self dignity in them anymore. Some girls are forced by their parent to go in to such acts because of poverty so as to bring home some money to carter for their needs. Some girls also go in to it because they are frustrated that they can’t do any job so to them the best and easy way to get money is by sleeping with men in exchange for money. Girls see this profession as stress free because they don’t struggle to get the money. Other girls get into this act of prostituting because they come from a poor background for example those selling pure water on the street feel the money they earn is not enough so the only way to earn more money is prostitution. In the cause of doing it they find themselves not wanting to live because they enjoy it. To her the effect of such act is that it will make the girls never to have the desire for marriage, some might contract diseases even though they claim they live on drugs and take treatment. So they turn to live all their live on drugs because once they don’t take the drugs they do not get to treat these disease found in them. Some will end up not having children due to series of abortion they had and end up childless till they die. Her advice to young girls out there is that they should hustle because men cannot give everything to them. It is just to sit and think about any small business you can do. In my case, I sell eggs. You too, can as well borrow money from a relative or a friend to start up a business which can grow to yield you great profit in order to stop this prostitution. The government can create an intitution which can lend money to these girls.

TAMBEMYING CHRISTIANA BUSINESS WOMAN

Prostitution is the exchange of one’s self for money. To him the reasons why girls prostitute are so many and not just for money. Prostitution is not just standing at the road side or duping money from your boy friend. Some just prostitute because of their quest for money to buy the latest designer dress, phones in order to compete with friends. To him the effect of prostitution is that it will lead to unwanted pregnancy. The victims will also turn to lose trust because when people know you and the means through which you get your money, the news spreads because it is not something that can hide. Another effect is that it will lead to contraction of diseases like HIV AIDS. His advice to girls out there is that they should live a simple, pleasant and reserved lives because even when you do a bad thing people will not put eyes on you

BY ENOW LEVIS TABE STUDENT

UB Journalism Students on internship

Momo ACCOUNTS: Keeping your money closer to you or scammers?

*By Ewange Njenge Brenda, Enongene Lerise Mbulle, Tabe Clemantine and Narenga Lizzette

Besides life, money is arguably the next thing most treasured by mankind. Money is practically imprisoned in vaults and strong houses not because it has been found guilty and is serving a term but because it must be kept safe from thieves and other “predators.” The world over, individuals and nations are mostly respected on account of how rich or poor they are in monetary terms. They are valued mostly on how much they have “imprisoned” in the safety of bank accounts.

Cases of bank breaks abound more than those of penitentiary breaks at which prisoners are set free. In short, money as the common saying goes, opens every door. The rich West dictates to the poor Third World countries, including who should rule them and for how long. With their monetary wealth, the West easily decides who should have or be deprived of money. Sanctions, which are often obnoxious and mean are imposed on already poor countries that hesitate to open up their flanks for further exploitation. The case of Zimbabwe easily comes to mind.

It is also commonly said that money is the root of all evil. Little wonder, otherwise lazy school dropouts are adept at scamming themselves into fabulous monetary wealth; otherwise decent people succumb to the lure of money by carrying out unprintable businesses. Money is grown the same way cash crops are grown. Whereas cash and food crops are planted in the soil, money is planted in ideas, vaults, savings accounts and tontines, to name but these.

When armed robbers attack, it is most often because they are targeting one’s monetary wealth. Money buys cars, mansions, reputations, dignity, fame, women and more. Over the years, money economists decided that the cashless economy whereby purchases could be safely effected without the use of fiscal cash should be the order of the day. Yet, scammers and other people of doubtful credibility have turned out to be always a step ahead of the most intelligent and innovative monetary economists of the world.

Banks have been in existence for centuries. Business here is, under normal circumstances, characterized with first opening and running a savings or current account. At banks, customers are basically subjected to the acceptable tedium of queuing up in long lines if they must deposit or withdraw cash. Even if such cash was just a pittance, the depositor or withdrawer would be expected in certain cases to hang on patiently for hours on end. Advances have been made over time to beat this manner of time wasting at formal banks including the introduction of ATM machines and the like. Very recently, banking transactions were rendered even easier, brought to practically every fingertip by way of Mobile Money accounts, aka MoMo. It functions by way of the mobile telephone.

Mobile money appeared in the limelight in Cameroon in 2010. MTN mobile money first came, then a year later Orange Money was also launched. As at the last check there is a record 6,8 million MoMo subscribers with close to 1,5million being active users in Cameroon. The record kept on increasing year after year. Discerning Cameroonians have so far been enjoying this system of banking transactions, as everyone with a mobile phone could have an account, without undergoing the tedium of complicated paperwork often required in the conventional banking sector.

MoMo has saved the teeming Cameroonian population lots of headaches and a certain degree of privacy. It has also redistributed wealth, created lots of new jobs with thousands of mobile money agents were placed all over the country, doing brisk monetary transactions on roadside kiosks. The long waiting lines characteristic at formal banks with sometimes attendant rude clerks have dwindled.

Mobile money permits pretty easy business transactions. For example, if you go to a shop to buy goods and with money in your mobile wallet you could, with a few punches on your mobile phone pay for the goods through MoMo. Even university institutions enjoy this system. As for parents who send their children to school, instead of encountering the stress of physically going to school to pay their fees, they can sit back comfortably at home and send your money and register their children. Even more, you can be your very own callbox as you can buy credit from your memo account. Indeed mobile money has been a blessing to Cameroonians and beyond, we all enjoy the system.

Yet even though mobile money brought joy, it also came with its ugly aspects as scammers easily learnt how to hack individuals’ accounts without much ado, scamming them of all their money. Plus, the charges began increasing outrageously. Firstly let’s discuss about the knowhow of hacking a MoMo account. According to some persons we interviewed, individuals say to hack into an account is by knowing one’s password and it is shocking on how easy one’s hard earned millions could be thieved just like that.

Some of those we interviewed advised that different means of security should be put in place to better enjoy the mobile money system (MoMo). Now why will people hack accounts, under this topic several causes are included but all based under one motive and that is to unlawfully increase the hacking individual’s standard of living.

 Then concerning the withdrawal tariffs, was previously free but started increasing as now the principal telephony companies started cashing in on demand and charging between FCFA 50 and 500 based on the amount (FCFA 100 to one million) and even though till date MTN mobile money deposits are still said to be free the population can’t get off the shock of the outrageous increase in the withdrawal tariff.

But could these tariffs be reduced or cancelled outright? Zuumpay is a global mobile payment and financial service, and according to its founder a young Cameroonian named Ndamo Israel, this new system unlike mobile money doesn’t take or require charges to either deposit or withdraw.

Asked if a zuumpay system can be hacked his reply was: “The zuumpay system is built with state of the art security protocols securing from the system software, users account and every transaction. We are using from the required banking security system, applying compliance security protocols to ensure both software and system security. That is to say, no zuumpay account can be hacked.”                                                                                                                                                                                      *(UB Journalism students on internship)              

The new addiction dubbed mobile phones

By Buma Bronhilda Wasa*

The effect is palpable even if ominous. The victim is usually seen in front of a television screen, or near a radio set and sometimes even in conversation with an interlocutor. However, their attention is not on what they are watching or listening to but on their mobile phone which they unconsciously manipulate sometime to the knowledge of the person with whom they are supposed to be conversing. This new addiction is causing people to indulge in sometimes abominable actions like conversing while driving or concentrating on the phone while engaged in a supposedly important dialogue.

Looking around the world today we will notice that people are not only dependent on their phones but have grown emotionally attached to them. Phones are the first things we get hold of when we wake up and the last thing we check on before we go to bed. They have become a basic element in our day to day life. Statistics have shown that a new phone owner is more attached to his or her phone more than one who has owned a phone for more than a year. Many people cannot imagine living without phones due to how attached they have become to these gadgets.

The Smartphone is hardly the problem. The problem of attachment to smart phones are the applications, internet and games it connects us to. Communication between people physically has become a thing of the past. Families now sit together in the same milieu but all heads and attention are buried on their phones. Even during religious services, people cannot resist the temptation of not touching their phones. We have seen couples sit in restaurants and snacks paying attention to their phones and ignoring each other. Due to the availability of phones almost everyone has access to the internet. Staying connected is now a national obsession. Libraries are no longer visited because with one option on your phone you can access any book or article you want. We have witnessed accidents that happened because the driver was manipulating his­ phone while driving. We have witnessed people fall into pits, holes and even hit themselves on objects on the road because they had their heads buried on their phones while walking.

Also, people have died or gotten wounded because they go as far as using their smart phones while charging them. For the advantages of access to internet on the smart phones, people can shop online, advertise businesses, access banking apps for easy financial transactions. When faced with a situation you can easily reach out to someone for help. We get entertained from the funny videos, the talent shows, the pranks. We get educated due to the easy access of information and interactive content.

However, as the adage goes, all that glitters is not gold. As the phone technology gets smarter, the price for the phone has experienced upward mobility. Also smart phones are a great distraction. Instead of studying, we get entangled with funny video or uncensored programs like pornographic videos. More so, much attention on phones affects the eyes because phones have HEV lights which can damage the eye retina. With all this we will conclude that a phone is a necessity in our day to day life but should be handled with much precaution.

*UB Journalism student on internship

‘Mount Mary’ Hospital treating, consoling war victims

By Baliki Marie Eta & Nembo Jenifer Nagai*

When the diocese of Buea created the Mount Mary Hospital in Lower Farms Buea, little did it know that this otherwise private and secluded health outfit was to become a source of succour to aggrieved Cameroonians. However, with the advent of the crisis pitting Anglophone separatists against the government, many have found a place to rely on even when there is no means to absorb the shock of hospital bills. Such desperation has found solace in the partnership that ‘Doctors Without Borders’ aka, ‘Medecins Sans Frontiers’ have struck with Mount Mary Hospital.

This explains why thousands of internally displaced persons, IDPs faced with diverse health challenges resulting from the ongoing socio-political crisis, in the two English speaking Regions of Cameroon find the Mount Mary Hospital of great importance. Despite the fact that they don’t stay there, they have been welcomed and treated with much hospitality.

According to the Matron, Mah Cecilia, every day, they are faced with different IDP’S in desperate need of medical attention even as most are without funds for treatment. They have numerous cases of orphans, widows, widowers and physically challenged people whose wellbeing is being taken care of by the parish. The Matron told The Rambler that  the impact of the crisis is most evident in teenage pregnancies, adding that “teenage girls are either sexually assaulted or exploited.”

 The crisis has an agonizing and heartbreaking effect, most especially on pregnant women who had to run into the bushes for safety. In the event, they were not opportune to attend antenatal or go for regular medical checkups.  The most pathetic part of all is women who are afflicted with the pain of parturition or bearing their children in the worst unhygienic conditions which may further endanger the health of both mother and child.

 The Matron further stated that they have received no help from the government regarding the welfare of the IDPs and that they do not intend to request for such help, not now or the in the nearest future. Nonetheless, they have been assisted by an international NGO, ‘Doctors Without Borders,’ who have greatly supported them financially and materially.

 She appreciated donors who have sponsored the health requirements of cases that needed surgery such as the case of baby Alex

[child of an internally displaced woman]

, who was born in a bush in Munyenge with a health challenge that greatly affected its head. She encouraged people to be humane and assist the needy as this is a vital necessity for national growth.

A close investigation by The Rambler team proved that IDPs at the Mount Mary Hospital are indeed well treated with much hospitality and generosity.  They are provided with good medical care and their feeding is taken care of.  Though they may have nowhere to cover their heads, they can always turn the hospital for help. It was evident on the faces of the people that they are satisfied with the help which they are getting from the hospital and other sources that have aided. The hospital hereby looks forward to promising days ahead.

*UB Journalism students on internship

Death snatches Anglophone socialites

During the past three years, thousands of precious Cameroonian lives have been lost to a foolish, avoidable war. But last week death came naturally to a good number of socialites and elder statesmen. Barrister Bernard Acho Muna, son of Solomon Tandeng Muna, one time West Cameroon Prime Minister and Vice President of the Federated states of Cameroon, died on Sunday, October 6, in Yaounde.

Ben Muna

Ben Muna was once an SDF party chieftain. He was also a two term President of Cameroon’s Bar Council. He was an outspoken critic of the regime and strong human rights crusader. Until recently when his health began to fail him, Barrister Muna who had a stint at the United Nations Human Rights Court for Rwanda in Arusha-Tanzania in the late 90s was very regular in the courts, defending arrested activists of the Ambazonian project. One of his siblings, Akere, also an erudite lawyer with international credentials partnered with the deceased at the Muna and Muna Chambers, Yaounde. He was 79.

Justice Moma Che

The death also occurred last weekend of Mr. Justice Moma Che Macaulay. Moma was a judge of repute whose career spanned several decades, mostly in the Southwest and Northwest jurisdictions. He retired as a Supreme Court judge.

Mr. Chia Kiyam Barth, a retired civil servant died at age 95 in Njinikom, Boyo Division. He was a retired member of the ruling CPDM party. He served as Section President of the said party for many years. CK Barth as he was fondly called was a prominent player in Southern Cameroons politics. He passed on at the Njinikom Catholic General Hospital on Saturday, October 5.


Mr. Chia Kiyam Barth

Gunfire, the ‘popcorn’ that deafens, traumatizes old people

*By Nchanji Nadesh

Residents of the war prone regions of the Northwest and Southwest are rather becoming used to gunfire that there recent jokes are being cracked even as hails of bullets fell people. The average toddler now knows and would advise a first timer to duck, to hit the floor or even get under the bed when guns begin to “cough.”

Young men and women refer to the rattling sound of gunfire as popcorn or better still as corn being parched. It is a derivative of the popping sound of corn in a frying pan. But inasmuch as the young can, and easily joke about this deadly game of firing at human targets, the elderly are left in the lurch each time the guns belch, especially loudly. Those with a history of high blood pressure or cardiac issues say their last prayers more or less.

Some of them have been complaining aloud of the eardrum bursting effects of Kalashnikovs and AK47s, revealing the various ways in which gunshots have enormously contributed in putting them in the precarious conditions in which they are find themselves today.

One of them, Pa Kinge Joseph, 83, an ex-politician of the CPDM party revealed that he is a cardiac patient who is always jolted out of himself, frightened by the cracking sounds of semi-automatic weapons. He said gun firing causes him lots of trauma, thereby inducing him into unconsciousness. He said it often takes him a pretty long time to come back to himself.  

In apparent reference to splinter Amba groups, he referred to the what is going on as a two edged situation in which protagonists have been quarreling and in extreme cases shooting themselves. He mentioned certain respected persons like Dr Ni John Fru Ndi, the founding chairman of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, and the clergyman like the bishop who tried to open the eyes of the citizens to see the need of peace but he, alongside his priests were kidnapped and tortured.

According to him, secession was never an option due to a plebiscite which was conducted in 1961 and a referendum was held in which they decided on their fate. “So, separation will be difficult and so we should not compare with countries like Eritrea and South Sudan.”

 He concluded by saying that “a father is a father. When you ask for something, don’t press him to the wall; let us all spread the message of peace.”

Another victim of gunfire from Muyuka  who refused to reveal her identity noted: “I am addicted to my late husband’s house and due to this I have  been badly affected due to the numerous gunshots. I am now a high blood patient and was hospitalized for over two weeks with very little income to sustain my family.”

Yet another elderly person who lives in Muea testified on behalf of her grandfather who is 89 years old. “He has since started behaving abnormally due to the constant loud and frightful sounds of gunshots. He has been mentally affected and besides the fact that this excessive gun firing has rendered him deaf.

He would want for there to be a quick return to peace so that many more deaf, cardiac and generally traumatized cases are not unnecessarily registered.

UB JOURNALISM STUDENT ON INTERNSHIP

Killing fields expand, economy goes into summersault

Slightly more than a month ago talks of Swiss authorities opting to mediate between the government of Cameroon and separatists seeking an independent nation of Ambazonia made news headlines. Teeming victims of the war were more than expectant. The hope was that the shooting war that has been on for three years could possibly end. That hope has practically faded away even as we write, with new tensions rising. More blood continues to be spilled, while properties and villages are razed to the ground.

There is bickering in the camp of the Diaspora separatist propagators. Bandits have infiltrated the ranks of separatist fighters and are wreaking quite some havoc. As reported elsewhere in this edition, gendarmes and soldiers are dropping their weapons and fleeing. According to Barrister Eta Besong Jr, former President of the Cameroon Bar Association, many soldiers are currently being prosecuted in military tribunals for “dropping their weapons and running away in time of peace…” Other information posted online is to the effect that soldiers from a particular ethnic group are grumbling and threatening because they are singled out and sent to the war front to face ubiquitous deadly militias.

But all of this notwithstanding, the economy has clearly gone under, with erstwhile thriving businessmen practically melting under its scotching heat. In short, they are said to be between the hammer and the anvil, the hammer being government authorities and the anvil separatist interests. On the one hand, government is suspicious of some entrepreneurs of English speaking expression funding the separatist venture and on the other, separatists are coercing, even blackmailing them to fund the “liberation war” or face ugly consequences. The story is told of a certain “Commander Ebube” who scammed millions of francs from a Director of one of the bilingual pilot centres dotted in all 10 regions of the country. It did not stop there. Not only was such monies extorted from the man who was at the time lying sick in a hospital bed. But he was also compelled to supply the militia with a motorcycle as “your own contribution to the struggle.” Today, the impoverished man who recently retired from the public service is cursing, while publishing one open letter after the other to the faceless “Commander Ebube.”

The man who has since disappeared from public view is now writing from exile. He is said to have run into trouble with creditors who raised the cash for his ransom. But if separatists blackmail and collect cash from those they consider as affluent, government has as a silent policy to “nip the Anglophone dissent in its teenage bud.” Quoting a top security official, a Buea based lawyer told this newspaper that the regime is not very concerned with elderly dissidents as they would soon peter out. Rather they are very disturbed by vibrant youth who have a potential to upset the political applecart. “The top security operative told me that the strategy is to subdue by all means, fair and foul, all those still bubbling with youthfulness and exuberance; that they are the potential boat rockers and our brief is to deal with them summarily…”

However, Anglophone entrepreneurs, whether young or old, are systematically frustrated out of business. Most of them who do carry out direct government contracts have been systematically asphyxiated, economically speaking. Their bills are either not paid up or they are denied new contracts outright. Alternatively, they are penciled down and physically eliminated.

The story is still being told of a certain Felix Ngang who was murdered at his home early in 2018 in the dead of night. Ngang, like many of his friends was a prosperous businessman, having made his wealth mostly from government contracts. There are many versions of why and who murdered him. One such version states that Ngang’s friend and fellow businessman, Martin Ndenge Che reportedly got a hint from a top security contact in Yaounde advising that he and Ngang should immediately go into hiding because their names were on the regime’s hit list. Che passed on the tip to his friend and advised that they go underground. But that apparently protective of his sprawling business empire and banking on his connections with people in the corridors of power Ngang didn’t take heed and was slaughtered like chicken on the night following.

Yet another version has it that hit men were hired by some of Ngang’s disgruntled relations to do him in. This particular version was even posted on social media by one of Ngang’s daughters studying abroad. She points a direct accusing finger at the late dad’s one time female acquaintance who would have taken advantage of the politico-social chaos in the country to take her dad’s life and unduly benefit from his massive estates.

Whatever the case, Ndenge Che on the other hand let go his own business empire which like many others in Anglophone Cameroon is today lying in ruins. We are told that while at least one of Che’s children, by name Lum Ndenge Che is marooned abroad, unable to continue with her education on account of her benefactor parents’ awful plight, she at least, still has hopes of one day returning to reunite with those parents. Not so for Ngang who lost his life, whose kids are languishing abroad, unable to pay for tuition and whose business empire crumbled following his assassination. By the way, Ngang, Ndenge and others were highly suspected of using what was perceived as their business might to fund the current Ambazonia insurrection. Those who rule the roost, it was bandied about would not be invariably sponsoring traitors. “those who use what we offer them almost for free to backstab us.”

In a separate case, a multi-billionaire who made his wealth from selling imported frozen fish also recently made big headlines in the local media after strong regime interests openly tagged him with carrying out illicit business transactions, evading taxes and funding terrorist activities. This man from the Western region took the bull by the horns, threatened to sue certain individuals and the government to court. But even though the issue seems to have died a natural death, the tycoon’s fortunes have, from the look if things dwindled and he is said to be treading very carefully, just in case familiar unorthodox methods are applied to contain him.

Meanwhile security goons have adopted a subtle, nay, disturbing and clearly illegal methods of getting at regime opponents. They simply abduct close relations of dissidents, hold them in distressful conditions and incommunicado. Such is the case with the 80 year old mother and junior sister of Anu Chris, the US based Secretary of Communications of the “Republic of Ambazonia.” Chris’s family reportedly moved the mother and sister from the insecurity of their village in Anglophone Cameroon to the relative safety of Yaounde. But about a month ago, they were picked up and as we write, they are said to be still the unwilling guests of security operatives.

All in all, hundreds of thousands on both sides of the political divide have been forced into the army of the unemployed. It is worse off in English speaking Cameroon who have seen thousands of her youths either summarily killed or thrown into jail, in most cases without charge. Of course, there are also those thousands whose kiosks and sheds that used to serve as work places have been destroyed in the name of fighting dissidence.      

Commercial Bikers Victims of patriotism, hunger & militia interests

The ticking clock does not wait for any one making minutes gone to be irretrievable. This can be seen in the speed with which one year has elapsed since a municipal edict pushed bike riders within the Buea Municipality into confusion. Relying on the excuse that these youths were or could become accomplices to crimes perpetrated by separatist militias, the maverick head of the municipality sometime in September 2018, banned the movement of commercial motorcycles within his jurisdiction.

The effect of the otherwise salutary decision on the bikers and the population at large has been variegated. There is the beneficiary population that has been induced into avoidable drudgery on the one hand and the bikers themselves on the other. This, in any case does not preclude the municipality itself that was beneficiary to council taxes paid by these bikers, most of whom were strugglers. Nevertheless, no matter the angle from which it is viewed, one thing is certain. And this is the fact that many of these disenfranchised riders have swelled the ranks of gangsters and bandits that now pass off for separatist militias.

Bike riding despite its negative impact like accidents and endangering denizens’ lives and road users, equally serves as a plus to the economy of Cameroon, rendering help and going a long way to solve many problems. Small wonder, President Paul Biya in one of his end of year speeches singled out commercial bikers for praise. He told them they were contributing wonderfully to the economy of the nation and gave them his thumbs up. But these commercial bikes are no longer seen plying some designated streets of Buea.

This decision is a result of the socio-political crisis which started since 2016 with no shadows of solutions looming over it. Many supported this act by the local administration but today, tears are inevitable in the eyes of such denizens.

While scores of biking youth are roaming all over, providing the proverbial workshop for idle minds, denizens are invariably feeling the bitter pinch of the ban. With no operational, let alone functional mass transit system on Cameroonian roads in general and Buea in particular; with the dirt roads that criss-cross Cameroonian municipalities, making it practically impossible for taxicabs to access neighboughoods, commuters have been the worse hit. With the sheer lack of access roads in Buea, women are forced to convey their market shopping by head load, drenched often by heavy rains or sweat induced by scotching heat.

Neighboughoods like Sand Pit, Small Soppo, Tole, Bomaka, Muea, to name but these had hundreds of bikers eking out a living and facilitating transportation in the process. Today, it is no longer the case, with these teeming youths either fooling around or giving meaning to the militias which the commercial biking ban sought to avoid in the first place.  

That aside, quite a good number of these bike riders, who hitherto solely relied on this line of commerce to cater for their daily needs and those of their dependents, are presently experiencing pretty devastating effects like the inability to pay health, other utility bills and handling sundry challenges. It has been a sharp fall in fortunes according to many of the victims. Plus, tontines (njangis) which used to go a long way to boost their investments have more or less been laid to rest.

An affected biker who would not want to be identified for obvious reasons, captured the precarious situation thus: “I can’t meet up with my house rents, electricity bills and the funding of my children’s bills and doing my manly duties in my house and because my only means of survival has been rooted off.”

Wisdom is a Buea based university student who depended on part time commercial biking for his fees and other academic requirements and needs. He told us: “I cannot meet up with my transportation, handouts   and a good phone to carry out my school work since my bills are on me.” He is just one, out of many other students that are self sponsored, that ride their way to university degrees and post varsity employment.

Come to think of it, the banning of commercial bike riding has not only affected bike riders, but has also plagued the activities of petty businesses (buyam- sellams) who are forced to trek long distances with their luggage, sometimes in very bad weather. The interdiction on commercial bike riding has also rendered most elderly people helpless, as they complain, they have to walk long distances through bad roads which is taunting to their health. That notwithstanding, cart pushers are in a sense, the direct beneficiaries of “disenfranchised” bikers. They may be fewer in number, cheaper and slower. Yet, the make up for part of the economic deficit left by the banned biking industry.

Despite the unbearable effects, hardships and slipping into criminal gangs by some banned commercial bike riders, it is worth noting that many of them managed to stay honest. They have resorted to menial jobs like cart pushing, hawking, “dog cooking business” tomato farming and, wait for this… grave digging! Grave digging by the way has come into the fray on account of the young men, women and children slaughtered indiscriminately on a daily basis by government soldiers drafted to fight an insurgency that has been going on for the past three years. Otherwise, a good number affected people including young girls whose bike riding parents have been put out of work now indulge in illegal activities such as prostitution and pick-pocketing. Many others have simply slipped into separatist fighters’ ranks.

Despite the hue and cry, in spite of the apparent boomerang effects of the ban, little or nothing has been done by the banning to assuage or at the very best provide a soothing alternative to the blanket ban. Wisdom adds, “the Buea council after banning our means of livelihood has not helped the situation but instead, they send the police to go after us when we try going out to work even in the neighbourhoods”

A varsity don, Professor Yenshu Emmanuel Vubo holds that commercial bike riders can still ply the streets if they are matriculated by the council for easy identification, plus, they should also show good faith.

“Although this action by the Buea authorities has its negative sides, it has equally resulted to some positive outcomes such as a reduction of the rate of road accidents and road traffics,” he noted.

According to him, many of them engage in this bike business because they do not pay taxes, but there are other businesses that they can engage in that are tax free, like tomato farming, coffee farming and others. “If the government says this activity should not take place it means they should look for other activities,” he stated.

However, some commercial bike riders we contacted have sworn to still ply the streets despite the deadly threats of being gunned down by ubiquitous security operatives now parading the town.

But then, being the corrupt prone society that Cameroon is, a handful of “privileged” commercial bikers are still seen plying Buea municipal streets unperturbed. These few have “spoken” the familiar language of bribery, understood even by those that have orders to shoot riding defaulters on sight.*

Dialogue prescribed as option to ghost towns, destroying business premises

By *Sengue Carine, Takie Esther,

Nicole Cecile, Ambia Lilian, Anu Alice

Pauline Enanga, Aderline Bokengo & Ekongwe Catherine

Denizens of Buea who are often caught in between amba boys threats and the mayor’s sledgehammer have been suggesting that the town’s chief magistrate should gun for dialogue and negotiation with warring parties instead of brute force. The consensus opinion is that this approach would serve every interest, including that of the state which is losing billions in prosecuting a war against separatists.

Most people The Rambler approached thought that the town’s economy in particular would be saved if the mayor adopts a talking as opposed to a breaking approach to ending ghost towns in Buea municipality.

Meanwhile, following the mayor’s current in sealing and breaking spree, certain business operators, despite the fear of the unknown sneak to their shops if only to forestall huge losses they would incur when their shops are sealed or broken by Mayor Ekema. These businessmen insist that there are several options or remedies that the mayor could adopt rather than sealing or breaking their business premises.

A shop owner we interviewed expressed his dissatisfaction with the whole trend, adding that “what the mayor is doing is for his parochial benefit and not for the shop owners.” He suggested that the mayor should meet the shop owners and the separatists for negotiations. He noted; “when a shop is being burnt and destroyed, it is the shop owner who suffers, since he will have to rebuild the landlord’s building.”

 The shop owner suggested prayers as a better remedy to these ghost towns and the Anglophone crisis. He said though the mayor wants the town and businesses to be functional and operational on Mondays, people most likely not to open their shops because there is a big problem in the country. “Added to that, shop owners pay a certain amount after the shops have been sealed,” he bemoaned.

Another interviewee made mention of the fact that, he at first felt bad about not working on Mondays, but noted that he is now used to “ghost towns” and has no problem with the phenomenon. He also mentioned that sealing of shops on Mondays and leaving it sealed for a month has no effect on him because, he has adapted to and now considers it as a continuation of the multiple lockdowns.  

This businessman said that he prefers his shop sealed because it will be open after a month than it being burnt by separatist fighters or broken by the mayor. The only time he would open on Mondays will be against an undertaking from the mayor stating that he (mayor) will be responsible if anything untoward happens to them.

According to a salesgirl at a restaurant, she works on Mondays due to instructions from her boss. Though not all workers and menus are available because food items cannot be purchased on Mondays since markets are not operational, they use the food stocks available to serve those few customers who come on Mondays. She suggested that, the authorities that be, should see into how they can ameliorate the situation by calling for a dialogue.

In a nutshell, these businessmen and women would want the authorities to drop all forms of hostilities and engage in a comprehensive dialogue.

*UB JOURNALISM STUDENTS ON INTERNSHIP

Frequent power blackouts sinking Cameroon’s economy

By Achaleke Ashley*

The issue of tempestuous power outages in Cameroon has begun attaining unbearable levels, leaving many a citizen to opine that the country has fallen apart completely. Cameroonians are being deprived of a necessity. Bribes are taken daily regarding this issue, be it in Buea, Bamenda, Mamfe or any other town in Cameroon. The litany of woes associated to this phenomenon of regular power outages that have made electricity supply epileptic in some communities and comatose in others is a veritable cause for concern.

Citizens pay bills daily but do not get the end product as per bills paid. Light is rather infrequent in most parts of the country. Managers would rather be seen gallivanting around during working hours instead of being at their duty posts. Insipid speeches and other banal propaganda more or less light up the nation a lot more than functional turbines, kilowatts and megawatts. Cameroonians are subjected to offering huge bribes just to ensure they are supplied with electricity. Cameroon is a blessed land with so many areas where big rivers, dotted all over the national territory can be harnessed to supply electricity for its citizens. There are other nations on the African continent with less means of generating electricity but they seldom face shortages, let alone outages. Botswana is one such, where good governance exists, where there is zero tolerance for corruption and ineptitude and whose institutions work almost with the accuracy of a Switch watch.

Decayed poles dangle precariously, constituting huge deadly danger for denizens. Transformers are of fictitiously low capacity, yet quixotic speeches and promises are regularly made to the effect that every nook and cranny of the nation “has either seen the light” or would be connected to a functional grid before the start of an ostentatious soccer jamboree. Hardly anything is done ensure the comfort of citizens who now celebrate a rare shining bulb or fluorescent tube. Assurance speeches and propaganda are spewed even as lights flicker and go out, sometimes leaving certain big towns in pitch darkness for months. Hardly have the citizens been apologized to, when their electrical appliances were blown or when their homes were burnt, thanks to electrical power fluctuations. Yet, disconnections are hurriedly carried out when one defaults in paying one’s bill for the month.   Poles decay and eventually crumble before ENEO staffers start fidgeting. Little attention is turned towards this and more, but workers find pleasure in petty offerings to fill their pockets with no work done in return.

Electricity is a basic necessity and if one is deprived they rather feel uncomfortable, with businesses crumbling. Some nursing mothers are in need of electricity to be able to nurse their babies; others use it to store their beverages or perishables in their refrigerators. The instability of light generally causes the destruction of phones, television sets, radios among others. Some could lose their houses due to the force in which light is brought back after it is cut off.

Individuals grope in darkness daily, while technicians fold their arms, blaming everything else on bureaucracy. They act like they do their work whereas the work done is not satisfactory. It is ironical that with one of the highest potentials of hydro-electrical power potential in the continent, the most that Cameroonians have enjoyed in this sector so far are the speeches that promise heaven but deliver hell.

Electricity is important to every individual in particular and every sector of the economy in general. This inconsistency of power supply has been for a while and consumers begin to wonder if their suppliers are aware of the huge losses incurred and overall damage done to the national economy. The simple replacement of rotten poles are suggestions laid out by consumers and also the replacement of transformers to ones of high capacity to supply its consumers. This costs practically very, very little to achieve. But corruption, inertia and a general work ethic that is daily sinking the nation has almost always ended in spending the pound to catch the penny.

The same bureaucrats refraining “emergence by 3035” in every other speech, are either shamelessly unaware or criminally compromising on what pivotal role electricity power supply plays in every facet of national development.

*Siantou journalism student on internship