Traders are fuming with rage after the Mayor of Buea accompanied by Council police and armed security elements broke the locks of shops in the municipality, Tuesday.
The move aimed by the Municipal administrator at stopping the lock down imposed by Separatist fighters, against the visit of the Prime Minister, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute in Buea has been a bitter pill to swallow. Moving from the Bongo Square to Mile 17 Wednesday morning, traders are in shock over the Mayor’s move.
At check point-Molyko, we met a retired civil servant, now businessman picking debris left by the breaking of his shop.
The visibly emotional figure could not hide his disappointment. » I am very surprised at this scenario. I have a good relationship with the Mayor. We lived in the same compound. i thought it was an advantage having a brother. But see my door lock is shattered. »
Another lady who manages a provision shop closer to that of the former state functionary revisits what happened on Tuesday. « I was at home when my boss called to informed me that the Council is destroying the locks of shops that were closed. By the time I arrived, the door was already broken including that of my neighbor. »( referring to the retired civil servants shop)
The prevailing conflict has been a huge blow to businessmen in Buea for close to three years now. While shops are being closed on ghost town days for fear of reprisals by Ambazonian fighters, the Mayor, Patrick Ekema Esunge has on several occasions sealed these shops in a bid to counter what he considers as the respect of these recurrent ghost towns.
Caught in the middle of the economic punches, most economic operators have ran out of business, while some few resilient ones have moved to major French speaking cities like Douala, Bafoussam and Yaoundé to revamp their dying businesses.
At a time when they are bent on pouring out their plight to the Prime Minister who continues his peace crusade, the Mayor’s new mode to stop ghost towns seemed to have deepened their economic woes instead of alleviating them.
« We are here sited with our business, struggling to survive in a difficult atmosphere imposed by gun men and the Mayor, voted by us the people is instead making things worse for us. How do we cope in this situation. » Metuge, a businessman in Great Soppo fumed.
He also finds fault with the timing of the exercise. « The Mayor came here at 9am to do this. Does he not know that people can decide to come open their shops at 10, 11 or even midday? »
Another electronic dealer laments: « He moves in town heavily guarded to inflict such pain on us. While we are at the mercy of robbers and kidnappers. It took me 700.000FCFA to fix this door. Where do i get money to fix it now? I have 25 people depending on me for survival. The pain is too much. »
Some Businessmen have revealed off record, they will press charges against the Municipal administrator.
While others have vowed to tell the Prime Minister and other Government officials their plight with the hope that such acts would cease.
The Mayor on his part remains determined to use all avenues to counter ghost towns which he says has badly affected the economic fabric of the South West regional capital.
The general wish of these traders is for the conflict to end so that they will experience the economic boom that has eluded them since the end of 2016.
By Nsoesie Peter
Mimi Mefo Info