Hundreds of families across Kumba, one of the most populated metropolises in the South West Region of Cameroon continue to relocate to others parts of the country for fear of the unknown despite appeals from administrative authorities.
The successive movement out of the city follows weeks of tension and gun battles within and around the city. Harassment form unidentified gangs claiming to be members of the separatists Ambazonia Defence Forces has compounded such transfers.
Uncoordinated narratives within the public space over what could happen between now and October 7 continues to trigger fear within families. Presidential elections in Cameroon will hold on Sunday, October 7. For one thing, the population is caught between assurances from local administrative authorities and threats from separatists of a looming war.
On Paradise Street, The National Times engaged a family of seven on the reason for their relocation. The head of the Family Josephine Nkemanyi, stated that unknown men were asking as much as FCFA 1.5 million from her husband.
‘My children I have been threatened with kidnap. The gun battles are obvious daily and very soon schools will resume and there is no sign of relief from any angle. So I have decided to relocate my family to Douala,” Nkemanyi stated.
Paul Ojong, on his part disclosed that, he had turned down a job offer with a good salary in Kumba at a construction site because of insecurity. Ojong who had paid his rents for up to six months said he values his life more than the money he has spent to set up the apartment. Ojong’s destination is Yaounde. He thinks life is best there compared to any other place in Anglophone Cameroon.
Itoe Justine, a mother of two traced the reason for the relocation to insecurity. “I am tired of hearing scary stories and happenings every day. This New Layout area where I live is becoming hot every other day. How do you explain the fact that…. I sit in the room on Monday’s then see at least ten youngsters parading the neighbourhood with guns… if the military retaliates now my family I will suffer,” Itoe quipped.
She has chosen as a new city of relocation Douala. Here the family of three is hoping to start a small business that will keep them going.
Felicia Tabot Manyi, on her part, told The National Times that she has observed the situation for two years and recent developments are pushing her to leave Kumba. Mrs Tabot said, her two children schooled in the locality of Foumbot, West Region of the country and succeeded in the 2018 session of the GCE.
“They are already used to the zone so I have decided to park with the rest of the children to settle there. This area around the Train Station in Three Corners where we leave has recorded unimaginable incidents in the last one month. But we wish to came back when this whole trouble is over,” Tabot stated.
Besides these, scores of others who turned town interviews are seen at major motor parks with belongings leaving Kumba every day. Others hire vehicles into the neighbourhoods to park their belongings to their new destinations.
Apart from those crossing into French speaking areas, a handful of villagers who escaped insecurity into Kumba have resorted to go back to their villages. Some claim the gun shots that rattled the town in recent weeks are worst than what they experienced in the bushes.
Kumba is the city known to host the highest number of internally displaced persons. Aware of this fact, the prefect for the area Charmberlin Ntou’ou Ndong has issued releases and made personal visits to motor parks in a bit to contain the relocations.
In some quarters, entire nieighbhourhoods are void of human activity. Entire compounds are spotted under lock and key. Despite the challenging environment, Kumba is still resilient. The last few days has recorded some silence in terms of sporadic gun battles.
However, observers predict that, the incessant relocations may even increase days to the October 7 elections if security concerns are not addressed.