The economy of the troubled English-speaking regions in northwest and southwest Cameroon is slowly grinding to near halt as the long-drawn-out security crisis is forcing local businessmen to put their safety over commerce. It is also driving away many of the biggest traders originally from neighboring Nigeria who have traditionally run key markets in towns around the regions.
The crisis, which started as a modest industrial strike action by English-speaking lawyers and teachers against the imposition of French, has spiraled into an unprecedented internal armed conflict. There are fears the country could slide into civil war as the conflict persists. In recent months, frequent clashes between government forces and separatists seeking to establish a state they would call ‘Ambazonia’ has left scores of civilians dead, including women and children.
The recurrent deadly confrontations have provoked mass movement of people. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that no fewer than 160,000 people have been internally displaced, while a further over 21,000 have crossed to next door Nigeria as refugees.
In a bid to express dissent activists have instituted a civil disobedience action called “ghost town”; which grounds daily activities every Monday, with extensions to some other key days. Traders who spoke to Quartz see the operation as economically damaging as at least one full business day is lost each week since late 2016. Those who dare defy the order risk facing the wrath of unknown arsonists who have burned down shops in nearby towns.
Restrictions of the movement of people and goods have further worsened the already deteriorating situation for businessmen. Armed secessionists called “Amba Boys” mount intermittent roadblocks on-and-off along major highways in the troubled area. The government has also had to officially close its western borders with Nigeria on at least two occasions, while dusk to dawn curfews instituted by some local administrative authorities have simply helped to worsen the precarious situation.
The conflict has also been marked by the disruption of essential utility services, especially the supply of electricity and network interruptions to telecommunication services. Internet services were cut off for 136 days between October 2017 and February this year.
Kumba, the economic hub of the South West region, located some 70 kilometers from the city of Buea, has a sizable Nigerian business community who are principally engaged in trade; selling motor spare parts, liquor, electronics, fabrics, cosmetic products, among others. Like in Nigeria itself, many of the traders are of the Igbo ethnic group and their neighborhood in Kumba is named “Igbo Quarter”.
Igbo traders are a fixture in markets across western Africa and beyond with key networks at home and even out to China, a primary source of many goods they sell. Most of the Nigerian traders in Kumba have been doing business in the town in the last two decades. But many are now considering leaving for both safety and business reasons. Similar to Cameroon, some ethnic Igbo political activists have over the last two years been reviving a call for the separate Biafra state to be carved out of Nigeria’s eastern region close to Cameroon. When this happened in earnest 51 years it sparked the Nigerian civil war which eventually led to the loss of well over a million lives.
Many Nigerian traders are not keen to wait to find out if the Cameroonian troubles eventually subside.
Fabric traders, Mr & Mrs Okezie, are preparing to return to their hometown in Abia state in Nigeria. The husband says it has been difficult to get supplies from Nigeria over the last three months, while the whereabouts of most of their customers who took wares on credit are unknown. “Like some of our other brothers, we just have to return home and see what life has to offer there,” he said. “Things are really tough here now and we see no way forward.”
Another Nigerian businessman who asked not to be named given the security uncertainty, said: “the business environment has become extremely hostile.” He said sales had dropped off and he no longer felt safe being in Kumba. “On at least two occasions, Amba Boys have visited me requesting for groundnuts [cartridges for Dane guns] or money to support the struggle.
Kevin Ndubuisi, president of the over 250-man strong Imo State Union in Kumba says his Nigerian compatriots have been returning in their numbers. “But no one tells you when he is returning. Some have just gone back as though they were going on a business trip but never returned.”
Source: Quartz Africa
Brasseries Recounts Ordeals Amidst Closure Of Agencies In Ambazonia
Les Brasseries du Cameroun has lamented over repeated sabotage of its activities in Ambazonia, that has led to the suspension of operations in four of the five agencies in the Southern Zone.
The General Manger, Emmanuel de Tailly, bemoaned in Buea, Friday July 6 2018. He was speaking on the occasion of award of medals to meritorious staff who performed excellently in 2017.
According to the Brasseries GM, repeated attempts to negotiate with the Amba fighters so they can carryout their operations in the zone freely, have failed. He went further to indicate that the financial loss incurred during this suspension has been enormous.
“We got in contact with some of those Amba fighters in Muyuka to plead with them so that we can continue our activities. Unfortunately, they instead kidnapped those we sent. We have lost close to two billion with the absence of operations in some places here,” Emmanuel de Tailly said.
He wondered why only Le Brasseries is being targeted, while fellow competitors of brands are operating.
“What baffles me is the fact that similar competitors who produce drinks like us are not being targeted. It gives one the impression that it is a staged manage coup to sabotage us,” Emmanuel de Tailly intimated.
The event was presided at by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Gregoire Owona.
While chairing the occasion, the Camerounese Minister of Labour and Social Security, Gregoire Owona, said social dialogue is a pivotal way to solve the socio-political tumult rocking Ambazonia.
“Social dialogue should be practice in a professional and cordial way, either by Government officials, elites, employers and the population to maintain peace, security and stability,” Owona said.
He also challenged LRC officials and elite of the Southern Zone to be courageous when presenting the crisis to the authorities. He called on all and sundry be promoters of peace and development.
Nonetheless, BaretaNews is requesting for multiplication of economic sabotage in Ambazonia. This tactics will LRC on bended knees, hence, bringing them to sanity so that we can effectively push our agenda.
By Lucas Muma,
Managing Editor – BaretaNews
Ekema Patrick On Bended Knees Amidst Buea’s Growing Economic Plunge
The Irksome Mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema Essunge, has literally knelt down in front of economic operators in the Buea Municipality, to shun all calls of economic sabotaged by the Ambazonian restoration forces.
He made the call, Thursday July 5 2018, during an emergency meeting grouping municipal and economic operators of Buea. The very low-attended meeting also witnessed the presence of huge contingent of the terrorist Cameroun military.
His call comes amidst the dwindling economic situation of Buea precipitated by 100% respect for ghost towns, intermittent halt of municipal activities due to gun battle between the restoration forces and the terrorist forces of LRC.
Such events, according to Ekema Patrick, has greatly paralysed economic activities, hence, reducing the municipal revenue collection.
“There is no gainsaying that the council has been greatly affected by the recent activities in the Buea Municipality. We thought we had kicked the ghost town syndrome away from our municipality. I am very surprised to see tit come again. I am calling on all of you to remain calm and go about your normal activities while the necessary security dispositions have been put in place,” Ekema Patrick asserted.
Bragging with the security presence in the meeting, Ekema Patrick told the economic operators that security operatives are present in almost all corners of Buea, and so they should have nothing to fear, thereby, going about their normal activities.
“See how this council is guarded, even those separatists come in their number, they can never penetrate this council. It is in like manner that the entire Buea is protected. SO, what are you worrying about? Let’s come out amass on next Monday and shame those perpetrating violence in our municipality,” Ekema Patrick arrogantly said.
On their part, the business persons stressed on security, indicating that on several occasions that their premises have been vandalised, the council nor the government, did nothing substantial. Instead, they were lead to leak their bleeding wounds.
“Mr Mayor, I appreciate your concern for normalcy to be restored in Buea. However, I am very concerned with the security disposition. Your council seems to be more protected than anywhere in Buea. I want recall your memory of the burning of my shop last year in Mile 17. Though you and other authorities came there and said necessary measures will be taken to compensate me, I have been left alone all along. Security is still a problem and we all know about that. So, I for one, will continue to monitor the situation, and will only open my shop when I see that all is well,” lamented Moliki Divine, a business man in Buea.
Other economic operators raised concerns on the sporadic shooting that come unprepared. Many say, in such situations, the LRC terrorist soldiers tend to victimise even them, the business persons.
“Last Friday when there was shooting in Mile, military men came in and were beating innocent people and requesting that they kneel down. Why on earth people who you claim are here to protect us, delight pleasure in brutalising the same people. I still feel, there is a missing gab between the population and the security. And until such gab is bridged, then we shall continue to live in an atmosphere of terror and uncertainty,” Pa Lambert Moki intimated.
Ekema Patrick, looking so helpless in the face of many intimidating questions, and seeing that the meeting was taken a dimension not favourable to his egoism, decided to intimated the economic operating, threatening huge sanctions on those who shall heed to economic sabotage in his municipality.
It should be noted that Ekema Patrick has built a stone wall of security around him, amidst threats to arrest and prosecute him. Returning from his refuge sought in Yaounde, Ekema Patrick has redoubled his security dispositions.
However, he threatens innocent denizens to go out and expose themselves to calamities.
By Lucas Muma,
Managing Editor – BaretaNews
Buea Grounds Economic Activities As Ghost-Town Lingers
From Muea, through Mile 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, to Molyko, Bongo Square and all over, denizens of Buea have grounded their tools and remained indoors, as serious economic ghost towns in on course.
As early as 6am this Monday June 18, 2018, news of a chronic ghost town, spread like wildfire across Buea, preventing even the stubborn flies from leaving.
BaretaNews combed the various streets to find out why the massive economic ghost town amidst lacklustre attitudes put up by some people in the past. From our findings, it is revealed that rumours had gone around all through the weekend that beginning this Monday June 18, any business premise that will be seen open, will be tagged as betraying the course, and destruction would be eminent.
“We received information from some people that if shops are open today Monday, our brothers fighting for the struggle will come and burnt them. So, I decided to close my shop and stay home,” Elise Andreas told BaretaNews.
Others say they closed their shop to show solidarity to their fellow fighters, who gave their all so as to continue progressing with the struggle.
“I closed my business place because I want to show some love to our Amba fighters. These guys are determined. The kind of energy I saw in those guys on Saturday eh, I told myself, these guys are damn. So, I decided to shut the doors of my business premises to make them know that we support them,” Likowo Ruth opined.
Though a few taxi cabs could be spotted here and there, the drivers say they are transporting people with emergency needs. They indicated they are not fully in circulation, hence, avoid any la republic agent on the drive way.
“We are driving because we know during times like this, people will want to transport their patients to the hospital. Others may have an emergency that will need for them to move from one place to the other. So, we are carrying only such people. We don’t transport agents of the oppressor,” Atem Derick said.
Worth mentioning is the fact that Tiko, Mutengene, Kumba and all other areas in the Southern zone got up to heavy Ghost Towns today. Worthy to note, it’s become a normalcy for ghost towns to be in place all around especially in Kumba. Vehicles plying the Kumba road don’t do so on Mondays. Issues have made it even worsening this Monday, as the road leading to Kumba has been blocked as a result of three days gun battle on the stretch of the road.
By Lucas Muma,
Managing Editor – Baretanews
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