Inside story About the Mboppi Market Saga

Beneath the traders strike is a conflict of interest which has degenerated into a power struggle.

Inhabitants of Douala rose to a sudden strike action by the traders of the Mboppi market said to be the largest in Central Africa. They were protesting against the purported eventual increase in rents of stalls, single electricity metre for the market, the construction of toilets and provision of water in the market. However, this was misleading as the strike action was a smoke screen to conceal the reality in the market and a ploy to twist the arm of the City council to sway in an underground battle for control of the market which seems to be very juicy.

It is true the Mboppi market is in dire need of proper electricity supply as the market does not only suffer from frequent power cuts but also low voltage. This offers a business niche as some astute traders suspected to be in connivance with the former management of the market led by Mrs Maguedjio Alice. This in addition to other malpractices such as establishment of false building permits purportedly emitted by the City Council, forced the Government Delegate to suspend the market coordinator,

Mrs Maguedjio and her assistant, Monogo Jean and ordered an investigation into the matter. Pending the results of the investigation, Lodjio Martine was appointed interim coordinator and Jean Baptiste Nomegni as assistant. This decision did not go down well with Maguedjio who argues that the Government Delegate does not have the power to appoint the representative of the traders in the market.

Under the guise of the association of traders of Mboppi market, ASCODYMM, she created another power structure and undertook negotiations with ENEO to put up an electricity transformer in the market, an activity which is incumbent on the coordination of the market which had also undertook measures towards the same project. With the support of the City Council, the coordination led by Mrs Lodjio took the upper hand but faced stiff opposition from the other camp who claim the “esplanade of the market’ which is the only available open space in the market, was not suitable for the transformer due to the adverse effects it could have on people’s health. She therefore organised a protest March under the guise of the general assembly meeting of ASCODYMM which was interrupted by elements of the City Council police and the gendarmerie. “She went round stores calling on people to march”, said one trader “and wrote placards and gave to them to brandish” she added under claims of anonymity.

A third party has been brought into the game with the appointment of an ad hoc committee by the government delegate, headed by a certain Bessala. It is this committee that caused the rise of tension in the market as they arrived in the market flanked with some municipal police, claiming to be the new people in charge, breaking benches, tables and stalls and disconnecting electricity connections in the name of restoring order in the market, prompting Maguedjio to initiate the strike action.

It is worthy to mention that power struggle in the Mboppi market has been raging on for more than a decade and end is not yet in sight. For now, the office and store of Maguedjio Alice has been sealed awaiting the return of the Government Delegate who is currently out of town.



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