Bar owners in Cameroon have been on strike for the past few days after the Cameroon Alcohol Producers Association reduced rebates by 50%. This decision which has been operational since October 1, 2023, has affected bars across the country.
The bar owners say that the reduction in rebates will make it difficult for them to operate their businesses profitably. They are demanding that CAPA rescind the decision to reduce rebates.
Aloys Messi, departmental president of Syndebarcam for Mefou and Afamba, a union of bar owners in Cameroon, said that the bar owners have sent several letters of denunciation to the President of the Republic, the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce, and CAPA, but they have not received any response.
“Our strategy remains the same: no purchase of drinks; sit-ins in front of the factories and distribution centres of the breweries if the SDO gives us the authorization. And then, no negotiation with anyone, except in the presence of the administration,” said Myriam Ngo Oum, founding member of the National Union of Drinking Establishments and Bars of Cameroon, on the night of Sunday, October 1, 2023.
“We have no choice but to go on strike,” Messi said. “We cannot operate our businesses profitably with the new rebates.”
The strike is likely to have a significant impact on the Cameroonian economy. The bar sector is a major employer in Cameroon, and it generates billions of francs in revenue each year.
The government, through the minister of commerce, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, has firmly warned the owners to open their bars with immediate effect. According to the minister, their strike is of no use and is instead causing public disorder. But the bar owners have refused to back down. They say that they will continue the strike until their demands are met.
“The minister’s warning does not scare us. We will continue with our strike till something is done,” said Ghislain Fokou, snack bar owner in Douala.
“The government needs to take the bar owners’ strike seriously and address their concerns. If the government fails to do so, the strike could escalate and lead to further unrest in the country”. Added Jules Nvogo another snack bar owner.
This comes at a moment when the country is already faced with so many difficult situations. We have the ongoing anglophone crisis, the recent teacher OTS movement, and now bar owners are starting their own. What better measures should the government take to slow this down?