By Loveline Mbori
This is not Bamenda. The once serene, secure and decent headquarters of the Northwest Province, admired for its beauty and hospitality, is fast becoming a "the Devil's Island"; insecurity, feymania, prostitution and banditry have taken the town hostage.
These devil's "occupations" have not only earned Bamenda a negative image, but have scared visitors and tourists. Confidence men (conmen) have invaded the town, striving as much as possible to make their sector the most vibrant. They target gullible citizens who want to get rich overnight.
These conmen have sweet-talked many into losing their money. They have pilfered huge sums of money from unsuspecting parents by mere handshakes in feigned respect. People who crave honour have fallen prey to 'Alhadjis' who feign respect to rob them.
The conmen operate in the early hours of the morning, especially at road junctions, market areas and the City Chemist Roundabout, where they stay the night in wait of businesspeople and nocturnal travellers.
The town is also grappling with resurgence in armed robbery. Bandits reign supreme in the night. They begin their operations by 1 a.m and have defied every security effort against them. Some sneak in through the ceiling, after neatly cutting out corrugated sheets.
The Government Delegate to the Bamenda Urban Council, Tadzong Abel Ndeh, ordered travel agencies to operate downtown instead of at Up-Station due to the activities of these conmen and thieves. The thieves also target taxis, where they snatch handbags and cell phones from passengers. Recently, thieves robbed an old man of FCFA I million along the Commercial Avenue.
Cabbage In Hearse
Recently a driver was discovered transporting cabbages in a hearse. The Post gathered that the hearse successfully conveyed a corpse to its destination in Santa and on its way back to Bamenda, the driver bought cabbages and loaded them in the funeral van. He transported them to the Bamenda New Food Market where he met petty traders (buyam-sellams) who jeered and booed him.
The number of young girls who have taken to prostitution in Bamenda is alarming. This has sullied the image of the town. Girls below the age of 18 walk about half naked taking off as early as 7 a.m. Their target areas are travel agencies, bars, restaurants, churches and other busy areas.
These 'Daughters of Eve' smile with every man they meet on their way, especially if they suspect they have some money on them. They have become a nuisance, especially to people who detest such indecency. They spend time in bars, eating and drinking, waiting for any possible 'catch'. Visitors and tourists who come to Bamenda will surely leave with the impression that the people are hungry and desperate.
In a bid to redeem the town's image, the Bamenda population has resorted to jungle justice. Two suspects were recently burnt to death by an angry mob for stealing a grinding machine and other items. Many thieves have been killed by mob action.
Many prostitutes have suffered brutality and poor treatment from unscrupulous men after refusing to yield to their demands.A conman who requested anonymity, told the The Post they sometimes pay dearly for their acts, but regretted that they were forced into such activities because of joblessness.
Bamenda is going adrift and the authorities seem helpless. The police have tried to rope in suspects but the situation is getting worse.Many people wonder why the police concentrate on the roads and not fail to go all out to fish out criminals in the heart of the neighbourhoods.
Maybe if they saw through the eyes of the victims, they would act robustly like when one of theirs is killed. But for now, many inhabitants of Bamenda sleep with one of their eyes open.