Armed Conflict In Southern Cameroons: The Perilous Journey Between Bamenda-Nso-Ndu-Nkambe
Since Ambazonian fighters adopted the strategy of road blockade as a weapon of war, the ring road linking Bamenda-Nso-Ndu to Nkambe in the Mezam, Bui, and Donga Mantung Divisions, has for months now, seen this strategy implemented to the latter. From Sabga hill cutting across Ndop plain, up to the Wainama hill, cutting across the entire Nso right up to Ndu, this corridor has been constantly on lockdown with either trench dug across the road, or tree felling and rocks lined to block the road. This has been a nightmare for commuters.
Some times, charms are placed on the road to prevent vehicles from plying, but the workability cannot be scientifically proven. The blockade is lifted only one, two or three days in a week for perishable goods to be transported. In some extreme cases, the road remains lockdown for an entire week. The Bamenda-Nso stretch is notorious for its frequent lockdowns. This week, it has been locked down almost 24/7.
Effects of the blockade.
The blockade has led to a sky-rise fare. For example; transport fare from Nso to Bamenda, to and fro is 10.000FCFA. At certain times the fair is dearer depending on the security situation. Part of this amount is then used by drivers to settle the numerous military and “Amba” checkpoints along the way.
Frequent gun battles and harassment from both camps have scared the majority of drivers from plying this road. It takes only drivers that no longer fear death to “run” this road.
Not only has the fare increased tremendously, but all other items transported and supplied have witnessed a two-fold increment in price. Basic items like cement, flour, and many others are now almost “ununaffordable to a large segment of the population in Nso and Ndu in particular.
Travelers from Donga-Matung Division running from the fighting have to take long and dangerous journeys. For instance, since the Nso-Ndu road is constantly locked, they are compelled to travel through motorbikes through Nyos in Menchum Division, then down to Fundong through Bafmen in Boyo and then through Njinikom to Belo and then arrive Bamenda which is a relatively safer zone. Or some go through Sabongari, then to Magba, Foumban, Baffoussam and then to Bamenda. The journey is not worth less than 25000FCFA, either way.
The economies of these areas have been heavily affected as food has remained in bushes, goods in warehouses. Wholesalers can no longer travel to buy in bulk nor travel to sell in renown markets.