100 Days and counting, No Trade on Bamenda-Bali-Batibo road


Police pickup ambushed by separatist fighters were 5 officers were killed 


Business activities have been paralyzed along the Trans-African highway linking Bamenda in Cameroon's North West region and Enugu in Nigeria.

For 100 days, traders cannot freely move their goods and services on this highway due to restrictions and counter restrictions from the government of Cameroon and armed separatist fighters in Bali Nyongha.

On the 20th July 2021, the Senior Divisional officer of Mezam banned the usage of motorbikes in Bali subdivision, a district located some 19km from the city Centre of Bamenda for 90 days. 

This was after 5 police officers were ambushed and killed at a checkpoint. The pro independence fighters issued a counter ban restricting the movement of cars for the same 90 days.

On the 20th of October 2021, a prefectoral order lifted the ban and same day, in a viral audio message, the authors, suspected to be pro separatist fighters said "no vehicle paying taxes to the Yaounde government will be allowed to ply that road" according to the spokesman of the self proclaim 'General' Grand Pa, of Bali.

For almost 10 additional days, trucks, cannot ply the Bamenda-Bali-Batibo road. Though passenger cars and tourist vehicles are allowed.

Business persons who buy and sell goods to and from Nigeria have been left to bare the brunt. As an alternative, a narrow path is used between Bamenda and Ngyen-Mbo, a locality near Mbengwi some 12km from Bamenda before moving on untarred roads to arrive Batibo. 

Communique from the administration lifting the ban on motorbikes 

As a consequence, goods of basic necessities are witnessing an increase in prices. A cartoon of Groundnut oil that used to cost 15,000 frs is now sold at 17,000 frs while a bag of rice has gone up from 21000 frs to 23000frs.

The cost of living is gradually increasing in Bamenda which was generally known as an economic town amongst Cameroon's 10 regional capitals.

Field reports gathered by The Observer indicates that traders have tried to broke a truce with the fighters to no avail as they careless to their plights. In a conversation this reporter stumbled on, indigenes of Bali extraction were weeping this decision but asked a rhetoric question of "who can challenge the order"

The most affected here are Nigerian businessmen who who ply the over 90km stretch to and from their country for trade. The road opens the North West region of Cameroon to a market of not less than 300 million people in Wes Africa.

Background

The English-speaking North West and South West regions of Cameroon have been under an armed conflict for five years now. Pro independence fighters say they want to create a new state known as Ambazonia as a breakaway from the majority French speaking population of the Republic of Cameroon.

Warlords have emerged in several districts in these regions where terror is the order of the day. Their mission is to counter any actions of the central government based in Yaounde.

The crisis erupted in October 2016 when teachers and Lawyers protested the gradual erosion of the Anglo-saxon culture inherited from the British colonial rule. The method according to the leaders of what is today termed the struggle is largely insufficient.

The government has granted a special status to these regions but their bait to arrive at least at a Federation according to demands made in 2016. A request the President of the central African Nation, Paul Biya says is not under debate.

The pro independence fighters have moved from using dane guns to sophisticated weapons. Not fewer than 3500 persons have died over this five year period.

And worst still, the crisis in these regions has not generated any backing for the pro independence fighters. No diplomatic mission has outrightly supported their course.

It is left to see when a U-turn would have been made for business persons to ply this highway unperturbed.

By

Ndi Tsembom Elvis

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