By Washira Helene
Shops have opened in Mbengwi, Momo Division in the restive North West Region of Cameroon, after being closed for a month.
The shops reopened on Friday, June 23, 2023, on the instructions of the Divisional Officer Ngidah Lawrence who ordered the closure as a way to pressure the population to ignore ghost town calls by separatists.
The closure was ordered in response to the action of separatists in the deteriorating Anglophone crisis, which has led to widespread violence in the region.
The shops were reopened following pressure from the local population and business owners. The D.O. had initially refused to reopen the shops but eventually relented after the situation became untenable.
The reopening of the shops is a welcome relief for the local economy, which has been struggling since the start of the crisis. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors, and unemployment has risen sharply.
“We are happy that the shops have been reopened,” said one business owner. “This is a relief for our businesses and for the local economy.”
The reopening of the shops is also a sign that the D.O. is beginning to listen to the concerns of the local population. However, it remains to be seen whether this is a genuine change of heart or simply a temporary measure.
The D.O. has warned all shop owners and business persons in that locality not to respect the traditional ghost town Mondays and has insisted that any shop found closed on Monday in respect of the ghost will be permanently sealed.
This ultimatum however, presents a further challenge for the local population as any attempts to respect it will put them in the firing line of sepratists.