Refugees in Cameroon: A Look at a normal day experience for the Ex-CTE Workers at the Labour Office
Today, 16th February marks the 7th day after the Ex-CTE Workers blocked the main road axis between the court junction and the central prison Buea.
Under the drizzling and fogy (18 degree Celsius) condition sat the Ex-CTE Workers melancholic, this morning when I visited.
It is 5 months since the Former Cameroon Tea Estate (CTE) Workers now occupy the Labour Office and Social Security in Buea. This therefore means that it is over 5 months since the workers of these two government offices have not visited their offices and the building closed.
My visit to the CTE Workers at Labour Office was initially to see how they manage themselves when it rains and also for a post-CTE Workers blockage follow-up. I was eager to see something new. And indeed, I did see something new - how a normal day looks like for them.
In brevity, I was made to understand that each day is a repetition of usual routines. Probably not in the same sense a banker, student or a civil servant would articulate her/her usual day-to-day experience. For the Tole Estate Workers, it is far more different and ridiculous. Unlike the aforementioned, the Tea workers are neither privileged to having proper medical facilities, sufficient food to eat, a healthy and sanitary conditions. At their age, they are not supposed to be exposed to certain harsh conditions and malnutrition.
Some of them have even stayed for days without a meal. And currently, the only one toilet they shared is full. So should the Cameroon government delay to pay their severance of FCFA 2.4 Billion. What would the situation be like without a toilet to defecate? No room to sleep, no bathing room to shower and no kitchen to cook.
Every day in the morning at 6am to 7am, the Ex-Workers would assemble for prayers. And as from 8am to 9am, it is tea time for those who can afford to buy bread, sugar and milk. 9am to 9pmnothing major takes place within these hours except at 9pm – they gather for evening prayers. But within the day, those who can afford to cook a meal do so. And those who can’t, they either sleep or just sited in small groups or individually scattered looking at the road, playing cards and / or watching the sky.
But when they are offered food stuffs 9items0 like tomatoes, rice, groundnuts, cooking oil etc., they prepare a general meal which is shared around 3pm.
“Some Cameroonians are generous” Ma A, an Ex-CTE Worker said in an interview
“People keep coming and giving us raw food. Sometimes, our families also bring us food. Though it seems as if people are already feed up with our situation. And unlike previously they used to be frequent. Now they rarely visit us” Fredrick one of the Ex-CTE Workers said.
That notwithstanding, lately, the presence of the Ex-CTE Workers has definitely made the entire clerk’s quarters starting from the Central Prison Junction to the Youth Affairs Delegation and up to the Court Junction a new touristic site in Buea.
And who could have ever imagined that by 2012 an ordinary day for the CTE erstwhile workers would be this miserable? That a day shall come when a demand by the Ex-CTE Workers for what is rightfully theirs shall result to the state abandoning over 700 of its employees, its citizens to live like their nation is experiencing famine or violent crisis. The Ex-CTE workers are now refugees in their own beloved nation, abandoned to their own fate.