Marafa Hamidou Yaya, former Minister of Territorial Administration was arrested in April 2012 on the charges of embezzlement of public funds in what has come to be known as the Albatross affair. He has since been in prison after being sentenced to 25 years. While in prison, he has been releasing several letters. The latest being that after the Eseka train accident. On 27th October 2016, Marafa addressed a letter to the President of the Republic. He wrote:
NB: This has been roughly translated from French to English.
Mr President of the Republic,
In the heart of one of the most tragic and the darkest periods in the recent history of our country, I am speaking to you. The unbearable images of the accident occurred in Eseka on October 21 at the Yaounde-Douala line served by Camrail, have deeply upset all Cameroonians. They will long continue to haunt them. These 79 dead, deprived innocent of their destiny and torn from their loved ones but are there no more victims than is willing to tell us? – These hundreds of wounded who are now trying to cling to life in the most precarious sanitary conditions are even more unbearable to our compatriots that this tragedy could have been avoided.
When this tragic event occurred, Mr President of the Republic, we did not find you in Cameroon. It was more than 48 hours after the fact that you finally arrived at the airport in Yaounde. You have not always visited the scene of the accident. In such circumstances, we can safely describe as national drama, the what the Head of State does as it nevertheless not to endorse the pain of the nation address his compatriots words of compassion and appeasement, and collect on behalf of all the people at the scene of the disaster. This is what Cameroonians expect from you. So be that simple gesture, Mr President of the Republic, to meet it wishes. Go finally Eséka. The dignity, the emotion of a nation requires you.
Cameroonians also expect the truth. By decree of 25 October, you have created a commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the accident. But you decided that only members of your government should sit on it. How, then, could this commission demonstrate impartiality and independence required in such circumstances? How would your minister establish the probable responsibility of the state, the Camrail society in which the state is bound by common interests? And this in just 30 days, the ridiculous delay that was granted to carry out its investigations? Cameroonians are not mistaken, Mr President of the Republic: they know that the commission will not get the full truth about the Eseka accident. But this truth, they want to know. They want to know what mechanisms as a sequence of impairments and multiple malfunctions have led to this horror. So you need them to ensure the independence of this commission by extending it to members of the civil society, senior engineers, scientists, jurists, former senior officers, former ministers, doctors. Only investigators non-aligned interests will be able to draw credible conclusions. Our country does not lack. Give them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills el experience. So give Cameroonians the opportunity to know the whole truth about this tragedy. Only then can they begin to mourn.
Finally, note, Mr President of the Republic, that Cameroonians are well aware that the fatal event Eseka is not a pure accident. Chance, or rather bad luck, of course, played its part. But she has stepped into a complacently series of breaches opened by the carelessness of your administration. This is because the road linking the two main cities of our country has suddenly found cut, due to inadequate maintenance, we hastily packed passengers in a train, in disregard of safety rules the most basic. This is because the hospital Eseka sorely lacking medicines and beds that the wounded had to be routed in the most demanding conditions and most critical for their survival, to hospitals in Douala and Yaounde. If the road and rail infrastructure of our country were not as old and failing, Mr President of the Republic, this tragedy could have been avoided. If our health facilities were not as precarious, the wounded could be treated more effectively and with dignity.
Among the lessons taught at the cost of such suffering this terrible accident, therefore appears the first urgency to engage in a massive investment program in infrastructure black country when I was Secretary General at the Presidency, and after that the Minister of territorial Administration and Decentralization, I tirelessly tried to convince you. In vain you have engaged in this field with a series of contingency plans that were much useless. The Eseka drama, whose memory will never be extinguished, now prohibits officials from that country to procrastinate further. It is time for Cameroon to become finally a state with modern infrastructure and effective and accountable administration, it is time for leaders who truly listen to voices of the people of Cameroon, and had Service Cameroon, Eseka Drama triggered shockwaves among our citizens. Those who remain deaf to this explosion have lost touch with the people.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya