We prefer to identify him in this report as John(for security reasons), a 29 year old internally displaced Cameroonian living in Douala who has been formally notified of the cancellation of his employment letter in an offshore oil company in Sao Tome and Principe.
The cause of what the unemployed John calls “major setback” is the non availability of a passport for him to travel Sao Tome.
In total agony, disappointment and frustration, the native of Mbot village in the North West region of Cameroon running away from the armed conflict in his region lamented: “…I applied for the production of an express passport on the 3rd of December 2018. I paid one hundred and fifty thousands (150000f) cfa to a certain police commissioner in Yaounde. Three months after, I could not get the passport to travel on or before the 11 of February 2019.”
He explains that taking the step to pay higher for ‘an express passport’ came after he had earlier spent 75000f for a passport to no avail.
Earlier in the month of March 2019, the determined Cameroonian took another step raising two hundred thousand francs for the same purpose.
“This time I was lucky to get to a good police inspector. Upon paying the money(200 000f), he called me after two days and I collected my passport. In total, I spent four hundred and twenty five thousand francs. This, I have not included transport fair to Yaounde and back to Douala three times while searching to produce the passport”. He said.
John however thanks God for the passport, but still regrets having lost a golden opportunity to be employed in an offshore oil company.
Like John, a young Cameroonian from Dubai – United Arab Emirates arrived Cameroon on the 6th of November 2018 to renew his passport. He is still in Cameroon today after trying all he could to renew his passport to no avail.
On the 13th of February 2019, his company in Dubai terminated is work contract on the bases of continues absences without permission.
His explanations of difficulties to produce a passport in Cameroon were not taken into consideration.
To the 36 year old man “… I am presently jobless in Douala. I am today living with my aunt in a two bedroom apartment with her three children. I am confused and frustrated given that I have lost my only source of livelihood that is my job in Dubai.”
Jespar Epale Ewane, a graduate from the department of Micro biology at the University of Buea has seen dreams of furthering his studies in a university in Belgium almost shattered.
Meeting him at the esplanade of the regional emigration office in Douala, he complained how he has been to the office over fifteen times since he applied for a passport on the 9th of October 2018.
Just as these three cases, thousands of other Cameroonians are stranded in one way or the other because of what they call ‘exaggerated delay in the production of passport’.
Sources at Douala emigration office attest that more than seven thousand applications for passports have been forwarded to the production centre in Yaounde since November 2018, with just few passports that have been produced.
The origin of the delay:
At the National Passport Production Centre in Yaounde, the explanation to those applying for passports is simple: inadequate materials for the production.
This has mainly opened a lee way for officials in the passport production chain to adopt the ‘express’ method of production that entails paying a high amount more than the seventy five thousands fee for an ordinary passport stamp as stated by the delegate general of national security.
According to a police source in Yaounde, the issue concerns a tussle between the delegation of National security and the ministry of finance over the distribution of 75000f paid by each Cameroonian seeking a passport.
To our source, officials of the ministry of finance since November 2018 have refused to give the 25000f share of the passport fee to the national delegation of security; money used to purchase material and other documents necessary for the establishment of passports.
At the moment, poor Cameroonians who cannot pay for an express passport are feeling the pinch. Many have lost their jobs, education opportunities, medical attention and ordinary visits to relatives and friends out of Cameroon because of delay in the production of passports.
In 2007,Jeune Afrique Magazine rated Cameroonian passport as one of the most expensive in the African continent.
The situation most Cameroonians say has been further complicated with unavailability of production materials as the delegation of national security in Yaounde.
Dominic Meme Nwakimo
Mimi Mefo Info