By Sah Terence Animbom
The war between Ambazonian restoration fighters and government forces that has engulfed all the seven divisions of the North West Region, forcing the shutting down of almost all subdivisions in the region or at least bringing them to a standstill has left especially travellers who are either seeking to get out of the suburbs to town or out of the region stranded in many parts of the region.
For months now moving in and out of Nkambe in Donga Mantung Division has become a nightmare. Travelers are either compelled to do about 75 kilometers from Nkambe to Mbohnso in Bui Division then proceed through Ntahba and to Magba in the West Region which shares boundaries with the Adamawa Region. It is only when they get there that they can take the road to Bamenda, chief city of the North West, passing through Foumban, Koutaba, Foumbot, Bafoussam, Mbouda and then the Babajou Santa stretch of road into the region. The total distance is estimated at about 750 kilometers which costs travellers close to FCFA 40,000 as they have to do most of their journey from Nkambe to Magba on bikes, if they find one.
Avoiding such a serpentine like and outrageously expensive kind of journey, people from Nkambe prefer to go to Bamenda through Misaje in Donga Mantung, Konene, Fonfuka, Buabua, Fundong, Njinikom, and Belo subdivisions, in Boyo division instead of taking the deadly and unchallengeable Ndu-Kumbo-Jakiri-Ndop-Bamenda stretch of road which is normally the easiest and cheapest done at just FCFA 5,000 but is now blocked for close to three months making it almost impossible even for military officers to go through with their armored cars and fine military artillery. Such too is becoming of the Bamenda-Fundong stretch.
Even taking the new found road which geographically is the shortest to Bamenda from Nkambe but most tedious due to absolutely deplorable state of roads, has become another nightmare compelling most eager to travel Nkambe residents to surrender themselves to the excruciating hardship they now experience though with no real serious Amba infiltration in their Subdivision. Moving from Nkambe to Fundong subdivision costs travellers FCFA 18,000 and another 8,000 to Bamenda, instead of a former token of just FCFA 1,500 from Fundong to Bamenda.
This is due to many road blocks mounted along the road and bridges destroyed impeding vehicles from plying the road. Not only are vehicles impeded from moving from Bamenda to Fundong and vice versa, but people too are highly restricted from moving even on bikes. It is this impediment that has for the past two weeks kept Nkambe travellers in Fundong stranded on people’s verandas and homes. Within the week, Fundong Town residents have each had at least two or three stranded travellers in their homes.
It is worth mentioning that the Bamenda-Fundong stretch of road has been very useful to Donga Mantung and Menchum travelers as it was the only practicable passage into their divisions. People from Wum cannot go through Bafut subdivision which has fallen into the hands of the Amba activists with a number of bridges along the road destroyed. People from Benakuma, Befang, Zhoa, Bafmen all have made use of the Fundong stretch of road within the past week but all got stranded in Fundong as they could not go further. Most were compelled to go on foot from Fundong to Mbingo which is a distance of over 55 kilometers before finding a car. All who managed to transport food items from their subdivisions to Fundong on bikes ended up abandoning them there when they couldn’t find cars to transport them and resorted to trekking with little luggage on their heads.
Just on Saturday January 12, 2019, a picture of young men transporting a corpse on their heads from Mbingo via a bush road in a gigantic coffin was circulated on social media. Worthy of note is that this has become the new found way of life in Boyo division with many people totally scared of taking the main roads for fear of fierce confrontations between the military and seemingly more than ever before determined Ambazonian fighters in Boyo Division.
Prices of basic commodities in Fundong, Wum, Nkambe and some chief towns of the divisions in the North West except Mbengwi, Santa and Bamenda have greatly increased and supplies are fast running out or getting expired in the few shops that dare to open. A cube of household soap now sells at FCFA 400 while a litter of vegetable oil sells at FCFA 1,500 and a bag of Rice at FCFA 30,000. Despite the already bad situation, things are threatening to get even worse.
The health of individuals too is at great risk in these places as almost all roads leading to referral hospitals like Mbingo Baptist Hospital, St. Martin de Pores Catholic Hospital Njinikom, Banso Baptist Hospital and Shisong Hospitals in Kumbo that hosts the lone Cardiac Center in Central Africa have been blocked. A woman died at home in Bafmeng last week due to the absence of a means to get her immediately to the hospital, while a month ago, a man in his 40s died at home too due to same conditions.
It is uncertain as at now when things will get back to normal in the suburbs of the North West Region of the Republic of Cameroon.