On April 1, 2019, a notice began circulating on the social media purportedly coming from the Ambazonian Interim government calling for a lockdown in the Fako Division of the South West Region of Cameroon from the 4th to the 13th of April. This is intended to mar the Limbe Festival of Arts and Culture scheduled to take place in Limbe from Saturday 6th to Saturday 13th this month.
Though it was uncertain if the information was true or just an April fool, the lockdown began yesterday Thursday, March 4th effectively in Buea as virtually all shops in the city were closed and the roads were void of commercial taxis and persons. Later that evening, the Mayor of Buea, Ekema Patrick Esunge signed a radio communiqué warning business operators in his municipality to either boycott the lock down and go about their daily activities or have their shops sealed for 30 days.
Today April 4th, the mayor led a delegation of Security forces and the Council staff from Molyko through Bonduma to Bokwoango to seal over 20 shops, mobile telephone agencies, banks and other business establishments considered to have respected the lockdown.
Some business operators who were alerted on the mayor’s outing quickly rushed to their business premises and were able to protect their shops from being sealed.
According to Mayor Ekema, he thinks the people of Buea are fed up with unwanted people sitting in the bushes and deciding on the economy and every other thing in the city.
Meanwhile, earlier today, two denizens of the city were shot this morning. A girl named Ivoline was on her way to morning mass at checkpoint, a locality in the city when unknown gunmen stormed the area, and fired sporadic gunshots into the air.
Ivoline apparently scared and frightened at what she saw and heard screamed out for help. When the gunmen heard her screaming, they immediately gunned her down. She was taken to the Molyko Solidarity Clinic but died shortly. Sources say she died after losing a lot blood.
Another man who has been identified as a security guard at CCA Molyko was also shot today and reports say he is responding to treatment at a Clinic. Two corpses were also reportedly found yesterday at mile 17, still in Buea.
With the events of today and yesterday, business owners in Buea are in a serious dilemma. They don’t know if they should respect the lock down and have their shops sealed or obey the mayor and risk losing their shops and even their lives.
Respecting the lock down may guarantee the safety of their lives and businesses but this won’t go without consequences. First, their shops would be sealed for the next 10 days and secondly, the landlords of these shop owners would be on their necks at the end of the month, they will be required to pay their rents, bills and taxes even if they have not made any profits for a month. Finally, this will only help to impoverish the lives of these business owners who think the crisis has already made life too hard for them.
If the business operators on the other hand kill fear and respect the mayor’s communiqué and open their shops, their financial situation may not be worsen but their lives and businesses may definitely be at stake.
In this difficult situation, the business operators in Buea and the entire population of the South West and North West regions can only pray and hope that the Anglophone crisis that has been existing for close to three years comes to an end.