Frequent power cuts across Kumba, the economic nerve of Cameroon’s South West Region has put owners of generators into brisk business at the expense of the common man.
Generator owners now charge exorbitant prices to city dwellers in order to render a service.
Since Monday, September 3 to Wednesday September 6, owners of generators have been making a fortune across Kumba.
It is a city home to at least 800,000 inhabitants though official statistics put the figures at 150,000 inhabitants.
At the BICEC Junction Kumba, documentation centres that were virtually gasping for survival have been transformed into major hubs.
City dwellers stream in their numbers to either charge their mobile phones, laptops, torches, power banks and other electricity dependent items.
Within this period of blackout, a document which was previously photocopied at FCFA 25 is now photocopied at the FCFA 100. The same goes for the scanning of a document. The price has moved from FCFA 200 to FCFA 300.
To charge a laptop cost FCFA 500. An android phone is charged at FCFA 200. Other items such as a touch and power bank are priced depending on the place and individual.
Across the city, generators have regained fame. In almost every neighbourhood, scores of phones are clustered around a distributor connected to a generator.
Barbers have switched business temporarily. Most shops that have standby generators are making fast cash within the period of the blackout.
Besides these, more people are scrambling for solar powered household items to cover up at nightfall. Across most homes, some families have medium-sized solar panels through which the entire household charge their phones.
Innocent Ayuk, a civil servant told The National Times that “ I have no choice than to pay FCFA 500 to charge my laptop. I work at the Land Service and I have a document to send to my hierarchy within 24 hours. So it’s better I pay than to stand there and be arguing. The situation of Kumba seems helpless,” the civil servant stated.
Besides Ayuk, the same fate is befalling most Government services across Kumba. The civil service system is still highly analogue. Just one of the over 30 Divisional Delegations owns a standby generator.
Secretaries from these Government services parade the streets with piles of paper and files looking for a documentation centre with a generator to fast track Government work.
The Energy of Cameroon(ENEO) which is the company charged with supplying electricity has maintained a stony silence in the face of the epileptic power cuts in Kumba. Nowadays, hardly does a week pass without Kumba experiencing power cuts lasting over 24 hours.
An official of the company who opened up on the problems in, Kumba relates the situation to the prevailing political climate in Anglophone Cameroon.
The official said gunmen are increasingly taking interest in polling down poles and destroying other materials of the company.
Mathias Ngong, tutor in one of the Government Secondary schools in Kumba faults ENEO for not being proactive.
“The way this company behaves is as if they careless about the quality of their services. They don’t communicate to the public in Kumba. No one informs us when light goes off and when it will return. Everyone in Kumba is in a difficult situation,” Ngong lamented.
As at the time of this piece, electricity supply was yet to be re-established in Kumba.