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High Customs Duty Thwarts Aid Efforts 

By Bless Zoshe in Maryland, USA

High Customs Duty and lack of Government Support has been said to hinder aid efforts from Cameroonians in the Diaspora.

The President of a US-based nonprofit organisation, Safe Bridge of Help, has identified the lack of Government support and costly process of clearing containers at the Douala Seaport, as major bottlenecks faced by the country’s diaspora in their efforts to provide assistance to needy communities in Cameroon. Cameroonian born Richard Mbakop made the remarks recently in Maryland, USA, during the first ever SBH function, to raise funds for the organisation’s ongoing philanthropic activities in Cameroon. 
“The difficulties are administrative, and we don’t receive any money from any institution or the Government. When we ship containers, there is a problem because we don’t have any help. We often plead with the Government, but we don’t have any exoneration. So, our bottleneck is the Government that is not helping us get the containers out of the seaport. In 2012, we paid FCFA 3.2 million, just on customs duties. In 2013, we paid FCFA 5.4 million. That money could have enabled us help many more people”, Mbakop lamented.
Mbakop has, however, appealed to the Government of Cameroon to reduce such bottlenecks in order to encourage such initiatives. “The Head of State has repeatedly said the diaspora should be an asset, in helping our country develop, but, sometimes at the highest levels, we can’t get to them. I have called many times but secretaries of ministers never let me speak to the ministers directly. They stop me right there. It is a problem”.
Nevertheless, Mbakop remained optimistic that the initiative will survive and called on the beneficiaries to keep trusting God for more of such acts of benevolence. “They should believe that there are still some good people out there who are willing to help. Let them not give up, but rely more on God for a better tomorrow”, Mbakop maintained adding that, since its creation in 2004, Safe Bridge of Help has made several donations to needy persons and communities in the areas of health and education.
“So far, we sponsor six orphans, and have donated equipment to the multimedia centres of two high schools in Loum and Bare Bakem. In 2012, we donated water heaters, crutches, and delivery beds to five hospitals in Mutengene, Sobom, Edea, Hopital Jamot in Yaounde, and the Centre des Handicapee in Etug- Ebe, Yaounde. In 2013, we provided autopedic beds, mattresses, tricycles and wheelchairs to seven hospitals, including the Regional Hospital in Bamenda, Bafoussam, Bafang, Bazou, Bangangte, Foumban and Melong.
Thus, the raison d’etre of this fundraising event, is to be able to ship the remaining medical equipment that we have in store, so that we can continue to help even more people in Cameroon”, Mbakop said. BOD members of Safe Bridge of Help say their next move would be to partner with other charity organisations in order to improve upon the lives of many more needy persons in Cameroon.  

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