Kumba(National Times)- Authorities in Cameroon’s largest cocoa production basin, Meme Division in the trouble-hit South West Region have given soldiers the exclusive right to escort trucks transporting cocoa.
The itinerary of the military escort is along the Kumba-Buea road corridor leading to the port city of Douala in the Littoral Region as insecurity lingers.
Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong, the Prefect of Meme Division, has signed a Prefectural Order in this light. The Prefectural Order dated November 13 a copy sent to The National Times News prohibits anyone from transporting cocoa along the said stretch of road without military escort.
Article one of the said order states that “from the date of signature of this order, the transportation of cocoa products on the highway from Kumba to Buea shall be done exclusively under escort of the forces of defence and security till further notice”.
Besides, article two of the administrative order makes bold that, any driver transporting cocoa along the said stretch without the escort of the security forces shall punished. Such vehicles will be impounded at the nearest security station.
In the third article of the prefect’s decision, he has charged the Divisional Officers (D Os) under his command, syndicate of transporters, cocoa dealers and others within the chain of the business to ensure the full respect of the order.
The decision comes after a series of attacks on cocoa trucks across Meme Division. Recently, gunmen walleyed a cocoa truck on the said stretch of road. Before the security forces could respond, gunmen had reportedly offloaded several bags of cocoa from the truck.
Meme Division is Cameroon’s highest cocoa production basin. It accounts for some 40 percent of the nation’s total cocoa output. Unfortunately, it is one of the highest hit Division following the socio-political pressures that have made life unbearable across Cameroon’s two English speaking Regions.
Mbonge and Konye Sub Divisions which give the Division pride of place in terms of cocoa production remain deserted. Thousands of villagers are still trapped in forests as gun battles pitting security forces and separatists fail to end.
The South West Region alone has an annual cocoa production capacity worth at least FCFA 90 billion. The constraints of the current crisis on the industry are very telling. One week to the presidential elections of October 7, licensed buying agents and exporters suspended their activities following the uncertain atmosphere of that period.
The use of military might to ensure traffic between Kumba and the Business city of Douala has yielded positive results since the Anglophone crisis sparked.
Such moves have ensured the supply of basic foodstuff and fuel whose absence at certain periods provoked price hikes and untold hardship.