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Bakossi Chiefs Chain Chinese Caterpillars, Stop Kumba-Mamfe Road Works 

By Maxcel Fowken

Chiefs 'chaining' Chinese caterpillars over bad roads

Chiefs ‘chaining’ Chinese caterpillars over bad roads

Traditional rulers of Western Bakossi in Kupe-Muanenguba Division, Southwest Region, have halted work on the Kumba-Mamfe road under construction.

The action, staged on September 27, is in protest over multiple deaths recorded on bad roads and what they termed increasing Chinese mockery.

The Chiefs, who represented over 14 communities in Western Bakossi, took to the road in typical traditional paraphernalia with the support of the local population.

Using traditional means known to their tribe and tradition, the custodians of tradition chained caterpillars and trucks at work.

The action brought work to a halt. An envoy of the China Communication Construction Company, CCCC, dispatched to negotiate with the Chiefs failed to arrest the impasse.

At the site of the public demonstration, the traditional rulers dared anyone who has control over the land to step onto either a caterpillar or truck to advance work on the road.

The chiefs maintained that, until their roads are repaired; the gods appeased, nothing will be done to reverse their stance.

According to the President of the Western Bakossi Chiefs Conference, the Chinese excavate gravel and other road construction material, invading rural roads.

Chief Alphonse Akwelle Ebong said they wrote to the Chinese, administrative officials and other competent stakeholders, reporting the development but there was no feedback.

Akwelle said it was due to no reaction to their plight that the Chiefs and the population decided to come to the Chinese for them to know what to do with the population whose roads have been destroyed.

“We are still negotiating but the person sent to negotiate seems not to be responding.

The tradition we have put there has to be removed. It can only be removed the day they are ready to negotiate. There is no way they can work with those traditional herbs on them,” Chief Akwelle stated.

Another traditional ruler, Donatus Enone of Eboko Bajaw Village, said at the time the Chinese were excavating the soil, they made the people to believe that they had bought the parcel of land.

“They made a dead trap for us to die on that bad road. Three vehicles have fallen there, we went to the administration and the Chinese delegation; no response.

We came to declare, ourselves that before they carry on any work, let them give back our roads. We have already held some trucks there…

If they work without our permission, there will be something following anybody who enters the truck,” asserted Enone, adding that: “We came to declare to our ancestors the suffering we are going through in Western Bakossi.

The day they will want to start work, let them come and negotiate with us. We have already lost two people and we are not ready to continue losing…”

The traditional ruler of Ebako Bajaw said the affected villages constitute a population of over 200,000 that use the road.

Five Chiefs had, in a letter addressed to the Divisional Officer, DO for Tombel dated May 26, 2016 and titled: “Worrisome manner of excavation of ground along the Konye-Nyandong Road: Cause for Concern,” signaled the situation.

“Our main worry is the manner the Chinese company working on the Kumba-Mamfe road is carrying out excavation. The point where the excavation is done is about 150 meters from the Konye Market towards Bakolle Village on the Konye-Nyandong highway.

They have dug the ground very deep, a few meters from the road, thereby, putting in jeopardy the lives of road users.”

The letter concluded that, if the practice were not halted, “it would land us into something disastrous in the future – a possible collapse of this section of the road.”

It would be recalled that the said stretch of road has featured repeatedly on different motions of support addressed to President Biya at CPDM rallies in Kupe-Muanenguba.

The people of Western Bakossi, in the last couple of months, have answered present at the same rallies chanting their support to the vision of President Biya.

At press time, there was no administrative official at the scene of the protest.

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