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

Military brutality getting out of hand

It is no longer news that the military assaults or even kill civilians in the Anglophone part of the country for very incomprehensible reasons; what is strange is the fact that, they no longer molest only the energetic young men but just anybody. They now accuse just anyone of being an accomplice of their opponents; ‘Amba boys.’ It is either they accuse one of supplying them with food stuff, arms or simply having something to do with them.

On Thursday, January 24 in Muea, a locality in Buea Sub-Division, the military indiscriminately molested civilians; the young, the old, men and women alike on the very casual unverified excuse that they have ‘something’ to do with the ‘Ambazonian Fighters.’

Going by Gerald Alioh, one of the victims, it was about 9:30am when his dad and he were heading to a relative’s house in the Muea neighborhood when the soldiers, dressed in mufti stopped their car, ordered them out. They were made to sit on the ground and tortured. Alioh explained, “They asked me out of the car and before I could step out, one of them kicked me on my buttocks, the other fetched for a solid stick and gave me serious lashes on my back. They also made my dad who is over 65years old to sit on dust after one of the soldiers slapped him on his jaw. My dad suffered an injury in his mouth because for some time now he has been having problems with his teeth.”

The Buea city dweller noted that, like others, the militia accused them of working in collaboration with the ‘Ambazonian Forces’. “They said it was elderly people like my dad who are sponsoring ‘Amba boys’. After interrogating us, the military boys insisted that we must bring to them the person to whose house we were headed. We had to reach him on phone and he came, and that was when they left us, not after they had also beaten that my uncle up too for no reason,” the victim stated.

Another victim of military brutality, Emmanuel Neba told ‘The Rambler’ that, he was walking past when the men in uniform called him and just started commanding that he should provide the ‘Shut Gun’ which he was in position of. He said he was lost because he had no idea of what they were talking about but they didn’t listen to him. On the contrary, he said they started beating him, claiming that they have been told that he is the one transporting weapons to the ‘Amba boys.’

“The more I tried to explain that I was innocent, the more they got annoyed and were kicking me on every side; it was God who rescued me from them otherwise, they might have even killed me and no one will ever know what happened to me,” Neba said.

Such cases abound. There are also times when the military will just invade a neighbourhood and arrest randomly; those arrested will in the end pay FCFA 25,000 each, at least before regaining their freedom. The people say their only wish is for God to intervene so that a lasting solution is found to the ongoing crisis.

By Nester Asonganyi

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