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The Rains Have Done Their Worse On Buea Roads 

By Yvonne Massa,* Benita Ngi,* Timothy Shing & Kely Takang

The Reunification Celebrations that took place in Buea a few years back transformed the face of the town in no small way. A beautiful boulevard now stretches from Mile 17 through to the Police Round-about. Several kilometres of other access roads were opened up and tarred.

Not only has vehicular traffic in this Southwest Regional capital been eased; modern housing units are springing up even as one blinks. Plus, the main university town is practically linking up in certain cases with other peripheral or satellite towns like Muea/Ekona, Tole/Sasse/ Saxenhoff and Bonjongo and Bolifamba/Mutengene.

To put it dramatically, building units are sprouting out of the ‘Town of Legendary Hospitality’ like mushroom. And the population could be safely said to be growing in geometric proportions.

But this is but the bright side of Buea. On the flip side however, the roads are, to say the least, disgusting, especially with the rains. The situation has been made worse by the insatiable appetite for new buildings in the town, which means that trucks and other heavy duty equipment must ply the muddy paths to deliver building materials. As a consequence, while building materials business is booming, other forms of trade are lagging behind in the town; with the concomitant slump in the sale of other products and services.

For example, for residents of neighbourhoods such as Bomaka, Ndongo and Dirty South, getting their merchandise to and from the markets is like a war without shooting. The roads here are seasonal and require maintenance with the changing seasons.

With As we write, the rains are here in full blast. With most of these roads not having been graded to meet up with the exigencies of nature and the inhabitants of the affected neighbourhoods, the whole place is just one hell of a hellhole.

Joseph Tonde has been resident in Bomaka for about five years and has come to accept his fate, vis-à-vis the horrible state of the road.

“I never knew that this is how the place looks like during the rainy season. I am already here and I will be here until I find a new place.” He added: “we are coping with the mud. I am prepared, since I know the place now.

Others who do not know the place are suffering with the mud. Taxis do not ply this road and we are confined to use bikes. Usually, I hire a bike to take me out when I want to go partying. I call them because my house is just beside the road”

Tonde noted that since the roads are seasonal ones, people will always complain. He said: “Blacks are always complaining because during the dry season we have so much dust and it really affects us with cough, catarrh, and dry skin.”

Another Bomaka resident, a businesswoman, Becky Ebane said she buys her merchandise from Muea Market but finds it difficult to get them to her residence and to where she sells. She blamed this ordeal on the poor state of the road and the fact that taxis avoid it like the plague. Even though she disclosed that the Council bulldozed the road last year, the situation came back to naught as soon as heavy rains set in. Shrugging her shoulders, she grumbled in exasperation:

“We are used to the mud. Taxis often stop at the main junction and we are each, forced to take a bike. But sometimes I walk in the mud. My business is slow now due to these poor roads. I will love that the roads be renovated because we are suffering… It doesn’t suffice for them to demolish our stores and leave without giving us any commensurate benefits”, Ebane remarked.

Ebane has adopted practical strategies in dealing with a desperate situation. She takes along spare shoes and a shower cap, each time she steps out of her home.

Another inhabitant caught in the poor road cobweb stated that “it is really difficult; the mud and the potholes hinder movement. We cannot wear good looking shoes and walk on this road. It’s really a mess. I look like a swine now because of the mud. It is very rare to find taxis on this street because no taxi driver would want to wash his car and dirty it within minutes. Bikes are the most used means of movement now, but I prefer to walk.”

Still in Bomaka, Mathias laments: “I am just trying to see how I can find my way out and in. The roads in Buea streets are abandoned. I can’t use my car on this road; I have to park my car and go on foot. There have not been maintenance on the roads and the drainage system is poor. If you have a road and don’t maintain it, it will deteriorate.”

According to him, Bomaka was declared a new layout for habitation; the roads were demarcated. “But only the denizens struggle to maintain this road, the Council is doing nothing.”

Elsewhere at Ndongo, Christel Muasom, says the road at Ndongo is something else. On many occasions she is forced to rinse her legs after using the road and sometimes gets to work very late because she constantly checks herself all the way, apparently to ensure that her beauty is intact.

“Sometimes when somebody asks you out, you cannot honour the invitation because of the mud. The Council has not been taking care of the road, but last year, I saw people throwing gravel on the road. Cars too are not helping matters. Heavy duty trucks carrying building materials are rendering the roads totally bad by creating more potholes.

According to an engineering student at University of Buea, UB, Julius Teke, the poor road network at Ndongo can be attributed to loose soils, poor compartment and heavy duty trucks that ply the area. He frowned that he cannot visit his friends and vice versa, adding that many girls carry about ‘emergency shoes’ to rescue them in times of need.

Georgiana Agbor, a UB student from Dirty South said she prefers to stay at home, to avoid the ordeal on that road.
“There is a strategy I use; I wear slippers, then when I get to my destination, I replace them with my shoes. It’s really stressful because you can’t leave the house straight to where you are going. You need to stop, wipe your legs and where you want to go you actually go late.”

Bikers are the winners here, making the fast buck from a bad situation, since their competitors, taxis no longer ply such roads. However, they don’t do so without some measure of strain and effort. One of them, Roman Londe complained of potholes almost everywhere and “we find it difficult to work on these roads.”

He averred that at one time the road had been graded by a woman in the locality thereby easing the movement of people and bikes.

“As it is now, we don’t have any competition because taxis do not use this road. We are realizing more income now as compared to the dry season because most people do not want to get into mud; they are obliged to take bikes. I used to make about FCFA 7,000 during the dry season but now I can make about FCFA 12,000 because there is an increase from FCFA 100 to FCFA 150 as fare.”

Not only do the bad roads affect the individuals but it also hinders the smooth functioning of the waste disposal process. Gilbert Achom a worker of HYSACAM noted that:

“Due to the bad roads our work has been affected; we find it difficult to remove the containers that we kept for waste disposal. Also, people throw dirt elsewhere rather than inside the trash cans. It is difficult for the truck to come and carry the containers”

*(UB Journalism Students On Internship)

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