Bamenda, known as Biya’s ‘second home’, is in a state of ruin as he celebrates his 41st year in power. In the 41 years of President Paul Biya’s leadership in Cameroon, concerns of corruption and poor governance have cast a shadow over the state of infrastructural development in Bamenda and across the restive North West Region.
In 2016, a bloody quest to create an independent state called Ambazonia started, and in seven years, an end in sight is far-fetched, with over four thousands deaths reported.
Besides the deepening conflict, the North West, one of Cameroon’s trouble-hit Anglophone regions, has a poor road network system — as major roads connecting it to other places are out of touch with modernity.
Bamenda, a city Biya once declared as his second home, now bears the scars of neglect.
A local bike rider questioned the president’s legacy, saying, “He had declared Bamenda his second home; is this how dirty one leaves the home? There is nothing to remember about his anniversary; it is 41 years of pain.”
The most resounding of the regime’s failed road projects in the Region is the Bamenda Ring Road.
Media reports indicate that President Biya announced the tarring of the Ring Road in 1983, igniting hopes for regional socio-economic growth and national development.
However, despite this promising announcement, President Biya neither initiated work on the Ring Road nor supervised its progress.
Critics argue that Biya’s Ring Road project was a deception, using promises to secure votes while neglecting the nation’s infrastructure.
A concerning observation by MMI is that virtually no 1km stretch of road in the North West Region is free of potholes.
This has had a significant impact on the lives of local residents, including farmers, who face challenges like increased transportation costs and loss of produce.
“Look at our roads; I need not remind you that you paid 10,000 francs to get here, whereas we used to pay 1,000 francs,” a farmer living along the Bamenda-Wum road, who identified only as Elizabeth, lamented to MMI.
“See how my bananas are getting rotten; there are no buyers. How will a farmer like myself eat from their labor? Biya is the worst thing that has happened to us,” she decried.
The only notable roads in the North West constructed during Biya’s tenure in the last decade are the Babungo-Kumbo road and the Bamenda-Batibo-Mamfe road.
Since President Biya’s swearing-in back in 1982, Bamenda and the country as a whole have experienced a decline in various aspects of life.
Many lament the state of the nation’s roads, which are essential for economic growth, as they remain in disrepair.
An economist highlights the significance of good road networks, stating, “Good road networks are the key to unlocking economic development, yet in Cameroon, Biya has kept that door shut for 41 years.”
This situation has left many feeling confined and concerned about the state of the nation.
In areas like Alom Valley in the North West, the road situation has hindered sand transportation, impacting the livelihoods of sand miners who are unable to access markets.
Calls for urgent road reconstruction resonate across the North West Region, where the road situation has become a glaring issue.
“Every aspect of life in Cameroon is going down,” says Wirbah, a political observer based in Bamenda.
“We have left from roads constructed during the Adhijo Regine to patches of roads beginning for Biyas intervention,” he added.
At 41 years of reign, President Paul Biya’s prolonged tenure raises questions about whether he has overstayed his welcome.