The Anglophone crisis has hit almost every economic sector in the North West Region, especially Bamenda. The cost of living has been made worst by the ever increasing house rents.
An influx of internally displaced persons from the divisions and villages into the regional quarters, Bamenda has made life difficult for landlords and tenants. Even quarters within Bamenda, like Ngomgham, Mulang, Ntasen, Musang (also known as RoundezVous), old CENAJES and a greater part of Mankon have seen a mass exodus of people, fleeing from constant gun battles between the military and separatist fighters and rampant kidnappings. They are finding safe haven in Nkwen and Upstation.
Landlords and house owners in these areas have seen their houses empty or wanting tenants. Rooms or houses in these areas have been abandoned with even landlords leaving their houses to rent house in Nkwen or Upstation.
This pressure on house demand has opened a suitable window for landlords in ‘safe zones’ to make brisk business. An apartment of two rooms, a palour and kitchen in Nkwen that used to cost 35,000FCFA per month has now risen to 50,000FCFA.
According to Shey Elvis, he can’t wait for the crisis to end for him to return to his own house.
“I spent my life savings and built my five-bedroom house in Nchobuh. I was living comfortable with my family. We had to flee to Nkwen for safety. Now I’m spending my small money monthly in paying for rents and food. I can’t imagine that I’m paying 50.000FCFA for a house that is not even up the standards of my own house,” he said.
Another tenant, Kum Stanley who fled to Upstation Bamenda because of insecurity says he is paying 150.000FCFA for an apartment.
“It’s like buying life. It’s safe here. There is no price for life. Here, I’m safe with my family. It’s regrettable that money which I would have used to invest is all going in to pay rents but I think I have no choice. Landlords are exploiting the crisis and are feeding fat from it,” he bemoaned.
Landlords in green zones like Nkwen and Upstation Bamenda say the pressure mounted on them by tenants have caused them to increase house prices. According to them, there are sectors that benefit from crisis and landlords are just having their turn.
Taniform Assumpta, a house owner in Nkwen says even with high prices of houses, she is even thinking of constructing more apartments to have more tenants.
“They keep calling me every day that they need a house. My houses are all full with tenants. Many are ready to pay even more but I can’t do anything because my houses are full. There others are pricing high and I can’t do the contrary” she said.
The increase in rents, have not recorded any commensurate improvement in the housing condition yet the demand is steadily on an increase.
While the general cost of living in Bamenda skyrockets, savings and investments are slumping down with no prospects for real growth the next decade.
Denizens are only hopeful that the crisis ends for a rebirth of economic life in Bamenda and the North West Region as a whole.