Buea Water Scarcity Exasperating Dwellers

Only a few years ago, it was hard to imagine taps running dry in Buea, the administrative seat of the South West region.  But after Douala, Yaoundé and other major urban settlements across the country, inhabitants of Buea, nestled at the foot of Mt Cameroon are increasingly going thirsty.

 “The population of Buea is witnessing an acute shortage of water,” Mayor Charles Mbella Moki told the state-run CRTV Friday.  “The government has responded to the cries of our people by demanding that the company that has the contract for the development of catchments should speedily ensure that the volume of water that has to flow in Buea be increased,” he added.

 But residents are warning they are running out of patience.  “The situation is becoming unbearable.  We are going weeks without potable water and you can just imagine the consequences if diseases like cholera surfaced here now.  People don’t bathe regularly and others cook with dubious water from streams,” Jordan Kale, a student at the University of Buea feared aloud. 

 Across the modest locality, bottled and sachet water vendors are making brisk business especially as Buea has witnessed an influx with some 4,000 athletes and visitors in town for the 15th varsity games.  Elsewhere, the number of kids crisscrossing neighbourhoods in search of the precious liquid is steadily on the rise.  

 Local authorities are blaming the situation on galloping population growth and climate change.  But critics have been quick to pinpoint lack of foresight.  “Didn’t they know that thousands of students enrol at the university every year and that the population was growing exponentially?  Didn’t they know that climate change was real?  Those reasons are simply baseless,” Martha Kale, a resident frowned.

 Meantime, officials at the state-run potable water infrastructure development corporation, CAMWATER say there is a solution in sight.  However, residents will continue grumbling for at least four months.  “We’ve given the company [developing the catchments] up to the end of September to complete the works,” Jerome Eta Obi, CAMWATER Board Chair and former minister disclosed after an inspection visit last week.

 “It’s not just the civil engineering works and the conduits that have to be done.  They also have to order pumps.  Buea is a place where at certain parts, you don’t need pumping because the water goes down by gravity, but in other places, you to pump the water,” he added.

 According to observers, the September deadline for the completion of the water supply expansion project tacitly indicates that the planned commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the country’s reunification in Buea will only happen thereafter.

 By Divine Ntaryike Jr

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