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Melen: The Hub Of Restaurant Business 

By Melissa Missem & Alimatou Moussa*

Thousands of Cameroonians today earn a living through the sale of cooked food in various areas along the road. This is peculiar in Melen, a neighbourhood of Cameroon’s capital city of Yaounde where petty traders, business people and even students sell food in order to carter for their various needs.

A Road Side Food Vendor

Some of these restaurants are at close proximity to one another and with differing sanitary conditions. Some are found around car wash spots and garages with vehicle repairers and drivers constituting a bulk of their costumers. Others are found in drinking spots and are frequented by civil servants who come to relax during break.

These restaurants operate effectively between 10am and 2:30pm. During these hours, traffic jam worsens in the Melen neighbourhood as people stream in and out of these food joints. Some impatient customers are often spotted cleaning plates to have themselves served before the food gets finished. Prices per plate of food vary from one restaurant to the other.

Mrs. Clarissa Ojong, a roadside food vendor and a hairdresser by profession, told The Post that dishes such as water fufu and eru, rice and stew, cabbage and plantain and hot pot etc are sold at her spot daily. She stated that the delicious nature of her pepper soup attracts huge crowds especially on weekends.

She noted that a plate of food at her spot costs FCFA 500 because of the expensive nature of food items in the market as well as the desire to meet up with the rents she pays for the place, which stands at FCFA 10, 000 per month. These, according to Mrs. Ojong, are explanations she advances each time customers complain of the quantity of food not matching with the amount they pay. She went on to state that she prefers the spot to any other because the rents are affordable.

It is in this same light that Ms. Patience Ngwenjang, a Form Five student, who sells water fufu and eru at a drinking spot in the neighbourhood, posited that the business is a way for her to be able to afford for her school fees and other needs. Unlike Mrs. Ojong, Patience sells a plate of food at FCFA 300 in order to attract more customers. She believes that the cheaper she sells, the faster the turnover and consequently more profits.

Some customers who spoke to The Post anonymously said they prefer the road side food joints because the price per plate of food is relatively cheaper compared to some big restaurants in the same neighbourhood and in the heart of the city. Some of them stated that African dishes like water fufu and eru and achu with its yellow soup being served by these road side restaurants are very nutritive and have medicinal elements good for the body.

These food vendors recounted their daily hide and seek scheme especially with the hit squad of Yaounde City Council who are bent on keeping them off the road sides. They are calling on the council authorities to remedy the situation by constructing market sites where they can conveniently sell food.

(Journalism Students On Internship)

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