Cameroon set to Rebuild Destroyed Anglophone Region, amidst Continuous Burnings and Mass Killings
The Cameroon government has begun sensitizing the populations of the troubled once independent state of Southern Cameroons to the need for the reconstruction of the region that continues to be ravaged by a war of independence now in its fourth year.
Paul Tasong, Coordinator of the Presidential Plan for the Reconstruction of the restive region is in one of the main cities, Bamenda at the start of a “12-day Awareness and Sensitization Mission” to drum up support for the reconstruction effort.
He plans to meet with local elite, administrative authorities, religious leaders, the business community as well as civil society representatives with the aim of defining the contours of government’s reconstruction initiative which intends to boost morale and restore hope to the families of the victims and to the populations of the region, bruised by a crisis that has lasted for more than three years.
“We want to make sure that the people own the projects,” the deputy coordinator of the Reconstruction Plan, Donatus Njong told Timescape Magazine.
“We are looking forward to rehabilitating some three hundred and fifty schools, one hundred and fifty-five health centres, forty bridges, four hundred water points, five hundred kilometres of low tension power lines, six hundred kilometres of rural roads, forty-five markets, twelve thousand private houses to name but these,” Mr. Tasong said.
But starting a rebuilding process without a return to peace has been heavily criticized by many-even by apologists of the Biya government.
Even as he welcomed the need for rebuilding the damaged infrastructure, the Mayor of Oku in Bui (a supporter of President Paul Biya’s CPDM Party), in the territory of the once independent state of Southern Cameroons, Jerome Ngum Njioh wonders how the reconstruction can take place without a restoration of peace.
“I know of a school in Kumbo that was built to lintel level but was once more destroyed by those separatists. So, if we begin reconstruction work without peace, I think those boys (meaning separatist fighters) will still destroy. I believe the fighting has to stop before any effort at rebuilding.”
It is a well-founded fear. Already, a separatist leader, Cho Ayaba of the Ambazonia Governing Council (AGOVC) has called on his fighters on the ground to enforce a four-day lockdown in attempts to disrupt the reconstruction plan. His call is in unison with other calls made by leaders of the two factions of the Ambazonia interim government and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (recently renamed Southern Cameroons Civil Society Consortium) CACSC on the people of the region to stay indoors for four days, deserting the streets and markets to protest visits.
Commercial Avenue, Bamenda's main Commercial Street on June 23
Gunshots have reportedly been heard in several parts of Bamenda Tuesday June 23 as Mr. Tasong’s delegation attempts to move around and hold meetings. In Kumbo reports indicate the military has organized raids to cart people forcefully to specific areas to meet with delegation members.
A resident of Kumbo told Timescape Magazine moments ago that: “There is ongoing massive arrest of civilians and health workers in the Banso Baptist Hospital and Mbve to force them attend the reconstruction and development meeting imposed by the Biya regime. They are in at least four armored cars and many trucks ready to ferry them and extort money from them as well”.
Deserted Streets in deeper neighbourhoods of Bamenda June 23
The separatist uprising in the once independent state of Southern Cameroons has left over 12000 people dead and nearly 1.5 million others forced from their homes, according to multiple sources.
The crisis erupted in 2016 when Anglophone teachers and lawyers took to the streets to protest the use of French in Anglophone schools and common Law courts, under the banner of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (recently renamed Southern Cameroons Civil Society Consortium), CACSC.
The government took a hardline and outlawed the CACSC, arrested some of its leaders and forced the others to flee into exile, and the corporate demands morphed into political demands, with many English speakers saying they want to break away, restore the independence of the once independent state of Southern Cameroons and then to rename it Ambazonia.