The victims of the Mbankolo Landslide, which took place on October 8, 2023, in the Centre Region, are persistently urging the government to fulfil its promise of establishing and resettling them.
The landslide, which resulted in the tragic deaths of at least 30 people and the destruction of over 40 homes, was caused by a heavy downpour that overwhelmed a water embankment.
According to a resident who spoke to MMI, the landslip occurred due to the collapse of an embankment that was constructed several decades ago around a former lake in the vicinity.
“There was a lake. A very old lake. There was a gentleman who blocked this lake. Because this lake passed his house. He prevented the lake from continuing to free itself. During the rain today, it was let go. It cracked. We just followed a noise. And then it devastated at least two hundred houses,” the Mbankolo resident said.
Following the incident, several ministers visited the site and made a promise that the government would provide temporary accommodation for the survivors before resettling them. Among the ministers present were Paul Atanga Nji, the Minister of Territorial Administration, and Célestine Ketcha Courtes, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development.
During their conversation with Radio Balafon, several victims of Mbankolo expressed their dissatisfaction with the government and its silence.
“I lost all I had in the landslide. In my house, I had a beauty saloon where I was making money from and managing my life, but the landslide destroyed everything in it,” Madeleine, a survivor, recounts
“The government, after that, promised to assist us by giving us new settlements. But since then, we have been abandoned here in the CPDM party hall, surviving thanks to the help of a few goodwill people who pass by from time to time to check on us. The government has abandoned us,” she added
Madeleine said all she wants the government to do for her is settle her down with a house and some cash to buy equipment and restart her saloon beauty business.
A few days after the incident, President Biya sent an entourage who offered basic necessities to the victims, who were highly criticised for coming at a moment when people had lost their loved ones and being offered buckets, matrasses, sardines, and others.
“We are grateful for the temporary support the government offered during that difficult moment. They promised to do more, and the more we have been waiting for since then. We are tired of staying at this temporary place; we need houses and to start back with our lives,” Anastasie said.
“We have not yet even found all our children who died that day and we have been abandoned. We are begging the government to help us, to establish us at least so we can move on with our lives for those of us who survived,” she added.
The government of Cameroon has been accused of abandoning victims after a serious natural disaster as has been the case with the victims of Mbankolo, and this is not the first time such accusations have been made. We still vividly recall the tragic incident at the Mobile Guinness building, where the victims were left to fend for themselves following the collapse that resulted in the loss of over 50 lives. There are many other people.