By Tata Mbunwe
An administrative authority of Wouri division in Douala has said government has no plan of providing settlements for about 500 people whose homes were destroyed by the administration recently.
Speaking to the press, the assistant Senior Divisional Officer for Wouri Division, Hector Etoo Fame, said these people had been occupying state property illegally, that is, part of the land belonging to the Douala International Airport.
“The administrative authority, in concert with the technical services, carry out the evictions as it should and in accordance with the law. The geographer of MINDCAFF is there. The summons were made beforehand by the sub-prefect of Douala II who was there personally and with the forces of law and order, including the gendarmerie and the police force and we carried out the evictions. There are no measures of resettlement of these populations. They illegally occupied the domain of the airport,” the civil administrator told the press.
Scores of structures were destroyed by the Douala City Council bulldozer last Saturday, rendering hundreds of people homeless.
The area where several houses used to occupy now stands bare with several piles of rubbish.
“I ask myself the question of where we are sending all this population. We built the houses, it’s not been two days they come to break us” wondered a Douala II resident who witnessed the destruction on Saturday.
“They came to break us, take us away, we don’t know where to go. For example, I have I’m a head of the family, I have 05 children. The others are there. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start,” mourned a parent whose home was destroyed.
The livelihood of these people remains uncertain as several of them are still roaming the streets of Douala confused and not knowing where and how to start reconstructing their lives.
With the upcoming African Championship, CHAN, to be hosted by Cameroon, government sees the necessity of enlarging the road leading to the Douala airport but at a great coat to its citizens.
Although there is general bitterness against government’s action that has caused homelessness, some persons, though, have blamed these residents for having settled on government land.
“Sad that people are rendered homeless at this difficult period. The blame goes to the people. When they say don’t build, they go on to build, aided by unscrupulous fellows who claim to be landlords and Chiefs…. We prefer to construct on risky areas like Nguoache in Bafoussam, Sissia in Bamenda… despite warnings from authorities and when disaster strikes we blame government,” Mbom Njuaba.
What also surprises many is that most of the buildings constructed in urban areas such as Douala are supposed to have been authorised by the municipal council of the area, who are equally expected to know whether the area is state land or not before granting building permits.
Similar destruction of homes for city expansion has also been witnessed recently in the city of Buea, where the municipal council destroyed dozens of roadside structures at the Ndongo neighborhood to create new roads.