When he served as Mayor of the municipality, Mbella Moki Charles named it “The town of legendary hospitality.” It was Mbella who contracted the French waste disposal company, ‘HYSACAM,” to handle Buea’s public hygiene imperatives. Local council labourers that hitherto carried out these chores were either redeployed to other duties or remained underemployed.
During Mbella’s tenure at the Town Hall, there was no raging war like is the case today. The social atmosphere in the municipality was generally convivial and depicted the mayor’s legendary hospitality approach to running a town hall. It is no longer the case now. Years back, a shooting war was declared, political animosity between the sitting mayor, Ekema Patrick Esunge and his predecessor heightened. Systemic and deliberate steps to obliterate the Mbella legacy were reportedly engaged, including sacking council staff suspected of having any links to their former boss.
This culminated in the abrupt change of the legendary hospitality nomenclature to “City of Excellence.” Excellence in this case would logically denote a drastic facelift of the municipality in every sphere of socio-political life. It would mean that the town now towers over mere hospitality to something like nobility and perfection. But that is not quite the case.
Buea has been overtaken by mountains of stinking garbage in every street corner. Little or nothing is being done, even as an emergency measure to halt this towering vector of an imminent epidemic. Ironically, the mayor’s priority is fighting the ghost towns syndrome to a standstill. So, despite the established fact that a cholera outbreak is most likely to kill more denizens, and do so faster than ghost towns, the mayor is preoccupied with intimidating and hacking open business premises that didn’t open for business on ghost town days.
And so, huge mounds of refuse litter Buea and environs, threatening to block the main streets in some cases. As earlier indicated, the phenomenon constitutes an imminent health hazard with the possibility of the spread of disease pretty high. Certain individual households have resorted to burning their waste with the help of kerosene or petrol. But with the coming of the rains, even this crude, desperate method of waste “cremation” is proving inadequate. And either way, the high levels of toxicity emanating from such burnt waste is said to be very disturbing to preventive health authorities who, in any case are helpless. The resulting gasses from the burnt refuse, experts say become is very dangerous to both human and animal health.
Also, assorted burnt refuse is said to produce toxic matter, often deposited on plants like vegetables which are harvested and sometimes consumed raw.
Areas like Molyko, Sandpit are practically chocking with breathing difficulties as we write. If Buea is being overtaken by “excellent dirt” and official brutality and destruction, the Bamenda City Council is very silently having new mountains rapidly rising and in certain cases replacing what used to be food markets. The town stinks to the nose. Potholes on the few dirt roads in this city are more or less open graves, that daily swallow automobiles and drives the economy on snail shells if you will.
The ‘HYSCAM’ garbage collection contract boycott is mainly blamed on the current level of insecurity induced by the ongoing war in the English speaking Regions of the country. ‘HYSACAM’ workers are said to be afraid of getting into the neighbourhoods for fear of being attacked by separatist militias and marauding bandits. It is alleged that a good number of their utility trucks were burnt at the Musaka junction refuse dump in the outskirts of Buea. Reason they no longer collect refuse in the Buea municipality for many months now.
Ironically, the council readily affords enough labour and strong military protection each time the mayor goes about sealing business premises, forcing them open or bursting the tyres of taxicabs whose drivers either feared to do business on ghost town days or had them parked in garages for repairs.