BY SIMON NDIVE KALLA
Good news has been brought to the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC family, following Minister Mbairobi’s assurance that something is going to done to address their plight soonest. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe made the announcement during his maiden visit to the corporation last July 5, 2019.
“As concern the situation of the payment of your salary and wages arrears by the government, be rest assured that we appreciate all work done by your General Manager to process the CDC operation, thus I want to assure you of my commitment to ensure that you receive something very soon”, Gabriel Mbairobe vowed.
Preceding the Minister’s response, the General Manager (GM) of CDC, Franklin Ngoni Njie told him that over 11,600 jobs are seriously threatened in the establishment, adding that the corporation is unable to satisfy her contractual obligations both in the domestic and international market and that it is unable to meet up with her corporate social responsibility.
The GM said the Minister’s visit is timely, when CDC is seriously hit by the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West regions, stating they realised in 2018 that CDC is the main target by the separatist fighters.
Franklin Njie revealed that in the rubber sector, out of 11 sectors, only four are operational and those operational are all situated at the Mungo Division of the Littoral region, operating far below their normal capacity because of the spillover effect of the crisis.
“Today we are producing 878 tons of rubber out of estimated 4000 tons of rubber, barely 23.6%”.
He also mentioned that out of the seven Palm Estates, only three are operating in timid manner and only three palm oil proceedings are functional, which were supposed to have produced 17,400 tons of palm oil but today only 2,100 tons, standing at 30%.
The Banana sector “is the worst hit, and it’s entirely shut down; pack houses where banana is processed for export was set ablaze. Workers were assaulted with their fingers chopped off, vehicles completely burnt down, Njie explained. The GM said as of today, 16 CDC workers have been killed, 9 workers sustained injuries from gunshot, 98 workers suffered assaults. Franklin Ngoni said there is a burning desire of workers to resume work, but pleaded with the Minister to provide maximum security to protect the workers.
The Board Chair, Benjamin Itoe thanked the Minister and his ministry for what they have been doing to rescue CDC from collapsing. He however pleaded with workers to resume work because that is where their salary comes from, he reminded.
While the staff representative Hon. Efite Andrew said the effect of the socio-political crisis has resulted in the closure of most estates like rubber factories, oil palm Mills and Banana pack houses. He cited that out of the FCFA 13,000,000,000 approved for CDC worker’s salary arrears, only FCFA 3.7 Billion has been disbursed and that it is 11 months since workers last received their salaries.
He pleaded with government to remove CDC from lists of companies earmarked for privatization, grant CDC tax exemption for a period of five years, provide additional financial assistance of 10 billion to cater for workers’ salaries, create an enabling atmosphere for effective work to resume in all of the CDC plantations among others.
In response to the worries raised by the CDC GM, Board Chair and staff representative, the Minister of Agriculture and rural development Gabriel Mbairobe said the Head of State is concern about the situation of the corporation and he is aware of the plights of the employees. He congratulated and encouraged the workers, while urging them to commence work in the plantations and factories which will be as a solution to the salaries issue. The Minister added that it is the only means CDC can generate revenue to pay salaries progressively and bring back the non functioning unit into activity.