Friday, March 25, 2016

The Nightmare on the Ring Road Versus The People's Call from Donga Mantung Division (My Letter Number Two)

By Fai Cassian Ndi
On March 22, 2016, Ngue Bissa Thomas, the National Coordinator of the Maize Programme told journalists in Nkambe that he took 7 years to travel from Bamenda to Nkambe. Those who listened to him thought it was a slice of the tongue. Maybe he was to say 7 hours not 7 years. To us, the 7 years is pregnant with alot of meaning because it represents just one third of the number of years that have passed since President Biya promised that he was going to personally supervise the tarring of this road. Twenty four years have passed and Donga Mantung people have been waiting anxiously for Papa God to fulfill his promise and nothing. Road or no roads, his followers and supporters continue to destroy our ear-drums with the "CPDM is development". I don't know whether some of them know the basic that where the road passes development follows. Which development can we bee talking about when we have no access road. Paradoxically, on March 24, 2016, Misaje, Nwa, Ako and Ndu joined Nkambe to issue Motions of Support and People's Call to Paul Biya. Nothing was mentioned about the stretch of the ring road from Kumbo to Tatum-Ndu-Nkambe-Misaje. 
The dilemma of horrific nature of the ring road has become a painful shame. In Donga Mantung Division for example, normal interaction has been frustrated by bad roads. Vehicle owners are in distress as their vehicles are not used optimally. In a border Division with hardly any railway, no air service and now no roads, the citizens of Donga Mantung Division feel trapped with nowhere to turn. 
Reasons why they have decided to take their destiny into their hands. As from Monday March 28, 2016 over 3.000 people will come out with hoes, spades, wheelbarrows, digging axes and hoes to start working on the spots that are making names along the ring road. Transporters and business owners in Nkambe and Ndu are all expected to make contributions to ease the work ranging from FCFA 5000 to 250.000. 
As someone puts it: This is a big shame to the Biya regime. The stretch of the road is such that even four wheel vehicles using that road invariably retire to a mechanics workshop at the end of every journey. Ngue Bissa Thomas, took 7 hours from Bamenda to Nkambe. 
Transporters are hurting and are bewildered that despite their payment of all road taxes to Government and the various rates to the state and local governments, little is being done to repair the roads upon which their livelihood depends.
The state of nature of this road as Budi Nji says "is not just a nightmare but a therapeutic theater of trauma for anyone pregnant woman and children below the ages of two". I remember how a friend of mine lost his child who left some parts of Yaounde in good health yet up arrival at Binka, the child was so tired that he just gave off kicked the bucket.
From Kumbo to Nkambe, there are trucks that have sunk into the mud and have remained on the spot for the past two weeks. If one can imagine that this is happening just at the beginning of the rainy season then if the people fold their arms and sit, expecting that the tons of motions will help them, i would say they are daydreaming. Besides, the very many potholes and detours mean that vehicles keep breaking down and sometimes with disastrous consequences. 
It is common for thieves, rapists and other miscreants to ensconce themselves in bad portions of the roads where all vehicles virtually come to a halt. Traveling on the Kumbo-Nkambe stretch of the ring road represents a perpetual danger to the population. Instead, the present state of nature of the Ring Road makes it impossible to plan a journey or predict arrival time. Commercial activities are suffering as goods and services are now in short supply leading to price increases in practically all consumer items. Just after two weeks of rain, transport fare from Bamenda to Nkambe has moved from FCFA 5000 to FCFA 5500. 

Of Corrupt Consciences 
From Kumbo-Nkambe is now a dangerous pothole. I mean potholes everywhere and all the directions. It is practically impossible to avoid all of them as quite often one preventive manoeuvre often leads the driver into yet another pothole. That's what exactly happened to us at Njifor and we almost spent the night along the road. Trailers and tankers are quite vulnerable. Trailers as usual often do not secure the containers they carry, relying on their weight for stability. As a result of a combination of circumstances, the Ring Road is littered with overturned trailers, tankers and containers. At Kakar (another celebrated hill) three trailers have been stuck in the mud for two days. How they managed to pass the ring gate when there was a heavy down pour is another misery. Traveling along the ring road doesn’t require any stranger to look for signposts, because the nature of the road is always a topic of conversation and most celebrated areas are always key topics. (Tatum hill, Yamba at Mbot, Njifor at the Ndu Tea Plantation) are the celebrities. Many have lost their cars at these spots. This is so because after each 1km or even less, the driver will always ask passengers to jump down and push the car. Here one of them “we are at Kakar, please everybody should move out of the car because we have to push. We used to pass through the church but that cut-short has been blocked”.
Transporters are lamenting the loss of revenue and the population the pains they go through. They can only operate skeletal services during the day and cannot operate at night because of the menace of armed robbers. Their revenue is down by 70% and unless the roads are repaired, the transporters may well abandon their trade. Already bad roads have led to a reduction in travel.
Campaigns will soon start and UFOs will storm villages asking for votes in exchange for development. Dr. Fuh Calistus just set the pace for the Frontier Agro Industrial Programme to kickstart massive production of maize. The question on every lip has been how will the produce be transported out of the Division. With the roads being in such poor state it is doubtful whether individuals would be prepared to put themselves through the rigours of a punishing journey merely for the sake to be part of the much talked about second generation agriculture. The real problem besetting the ring road is that government cares little about the people of Donga Mantung Division. Do the "C" elite(s) really care when they don't care to remind Paul Biya that he promised to personally supervise the tarring of the ring road? 
The lack of maintenance of roads in Cameroon has become a public issue as Cameroonians are lamenting this failure of leadership. Good roads are a basic component of good governance. Cameroonians are routinely being put at risk everyday as a result of the failure of the state to provide adequate amenities for its citizens. All the authorities involved in road construction and maintenance should buckle down and do something to remove this blot on Cameroon’s image. We are even made to understand that this road is tarred on papers. If really that is true, I am suggesting to all the CPDM elite(s) to download this second letter to attach to the Motions of Support and People's Calls they signed in the name of the people of Donga Mantung. This is my letter No 2 accompanying the Motions and Calls for President Biya's Candidature.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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