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