Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cameroon:Giving Buea Municipality a facelift.

Buea Mayor, Mbella Moki
By Mofor Samuel
For close to a month or so things have been moving very fast within the Buea Municipality. Local council authorities have been on the field with the aim of giving the municipality a face lift. How far can they go in that direction? Only time will tell.

The signing of a five year contract worth over 2 billion francs with the Hygiene and Sanitation Company of Cameroon, HYSACAM, to keep the town clean as far as waste management is concerned in the municipality is just one side of the story.

Another side of the story has got to do with the pulling down of all semi permanent structures said to be constructed haphazardly along the major highways in the municipality.

 Anyone driving into the town will notice that most of the small businesses from Molyko right up to Clerks’ Quarters particularly along the hospital road have disappeared.

The owners of the structures could be seen struggling to remove the containers that they used to use for their small businesses. Owners of small businesses and council workers could be seen working side by side as far as the demolishing of unwanted structures and the retrieval of what could be retrieved by owners of the small businesses are concerned. In fact the scenario is not a very good one as there is lot of gnashing of teeth and tension in the affected quarters.

Talking over Radio Buea(CRTV) prime time programme, Press Club, the Mayor of the Buea Municipality said that he regretted that things got to that level as far as those affected were concerned. He went further to say that the ministerial decision to demolish all makeshift structures had been respected in some major towns and cities since the decision came into effect some five years ago but Buea Council had been giving time for people to comply and since the time had run out, the sledge hammer had to fall on them.

 The part of the discussion that caught this analyst’s attention and he wants to believe did catch the attention of many other listeners too had got to do with the relocation of those whose business premises were destroyed or were asked to remove their containers. Where do they go from there? The answer provided by the mayor already tells anyone who can read the handwriting on the wall that he might be consciously or unconsciously threading into trouble waters.
Unless proved wrong, this commentator heard him say among other things that some of these people will relocate in the Buea town market that is being constructed, that a mall is also been constructed in Buea town where people can go for shopping, ten hectares of land has been secured in the Molyko neighbourhood to construct a central market for Buea and that the Great Soppo Market will no longer exist as every one will have to move to the new sight. The timeframe was not well defined.
 By trying to deprive Great Soppo of a market under the cover that the local authorities wanted to seize land from individuals to be used as a market site for Great Soppo, don’t he think it is so flimsy an excuse?

There is this old site of the Great Soppo Market, since he said that the ministerial decision to demolish unwanted structures had been going on for five years, couldn’t the council have thought of relocating some of these people here? After all even though they had been asked to quit or demolish the structures as the mayor insinuated during his chat with journalists, the council has all this while been collecting taxes from them.

How could the council be legitimizing their status by collecting taxes from them however little the amount and expecting them to respect its order? Can one not rightly say the council authorities were going out through the door only to come in through the window? It is often said that better be late than never.

Don’t the mayor and his etat-major think that it could have been better to come up with a plan of relocating people starting with the old site of the Great Soppo Market before dialoguing with some on the need for them to move to elsewhere? One could talk of a food market and see how people will react to the suggestion rather than trying to deprive the largest neighbourhooh in the Buea Municipality of a market. It is high time the council authorities rethink their position or they might be starting a war whose outcome will not be the best at least for the image of the town. Remember Buea is not just any town.

People are watching and are silently preparing to counter some of these moves being carried out by the council authorities as far their livelihood and survival are concerned. The issue of a central market in Buea does not concern only the inhabitants of Great Soppo alone or those whose businesses have been destroyed elsewhere but the whole municipality.

Why must the mayor have to go on the air to take on Great Soppo in particular? Can he honestly say that if eventually a central market is constructed, only people who are resident in Great Soppo will be giving stalls?

Every other neighbourhood in Buea to the best of my knowledge has it own market however small or disorganized it might appear to look like. And so let Great Soppo not be used like a scapegoat because the local authorities did not give the municipal authorities the response they expected. In development parlance, it is said that, start where the people are and work from there.
Great Soppo already has an oldsite that used to serve as its market and the former mayor of Buea, Mokake Endeley had started doing something on the site before Mbella Moki and his team came in. What has become of the work started by the former mayor? Does the present mayor not think that if they had deem it necessary to continue with the initiative left by his predecessor it could have gone a long way to reduce some of the headache and stress that is gaining ground within the municipality presently.

Just as the population of Buea Town needs a modern market of their own so does the population of Great Soppo too needs one too, at least on the old site.
It is said that he who goes for equity goes with clean hands. Just like the council authorities have been collecting taxes from sellers and traders in the Buea Town Market so has it been doing the same in Great Soppo.
The new market in Buea Town is part of the facelift given to the town.

 What is wrong in constructing or completing what was left by the previous team as far as the old market site for Great Soppo is concerned so that the abandoned structures left there can be transformed to modern market stalls there by including Great Soppo in the new picture of the municipality and above all reducing some of the tension that is already breeding in the municipality and Great Soppo in particular over the issue of finding a place to set up a business.
The mayor and his etat-major must remember that poor results derive from inadequate planning and implementation than from lack of funds and knowledge.

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