Encroachment on roads, disrespect for high way code, inappropriate refuse disposal and noise pollution are the order of the day in the economic capital.
In less than fifteen months Cameroon will be hosting the greatest football jamboree on the continent, the 2019 AFCON, and while preparations have been focused on infrastructure and other facilities, little or no attention has been paid to preparing the people mentally on good civic behaviour so as to create a good impression on the many visitors who will be streaming into the country.
The impression a tourist makes of a country begins from the nature of welcome at the airport to checking into a hotel room passing through the behaviour of the man on the street when he or she jumps out to have fun.
There is a lot of urban disorder in Douala which could bring to naught all the efforts made by government to organise a memorable tournament in Cameroon.
The disorder range from markets encroaching on roads, disrespect for the Highway Code, inappropriate refuse disposal, noise pollution and littering. It is common place in Douala to find people displaying their goods on the pavements reserved for pedestrians or even the motorway thereby causing unnecessary traffic jams.
Though the phenomenon is found everywhere, the notorious areas of encroachment are around Marché Central, Akwa, Nkololoun, Ndogpassi, New Bell, ELF and Rail Bonaberi market. Closely linked to market encroachments is the issue of spontaneous vehicle or motor-taxis parks, obstructing traffic around areas such as Rond Point Deido, Rail Bonaberi and other major road junctions.
As concerns traffic disorder, Douala is reputed as the only town where the High Way code has been thrown to the dustbin. Motorists, especially “Ben skins” ride on opposite sides of the road and park anywhere.
There is no respect for traffic lights and overloading of taxis and motorbikes is the order of the day. Heavy trucks ply the city at day time though there is a law forbidding them from doing so before nightfall and park along the road sides causing untold hardship for the city dwellers.
Littering is another form of urban disorder in Douala. People dispose of household refuse on the ground at times even when there are huge dustbins placed by the urban refuse disposal company.
A new form of urban disorder is noise pollution. It is now trendy for every business to blast music at the top of the volume in order to attract the attention of customers. This is very common with the mobile telephone or brewery companies when on promotion but little business operators are beginning to copy the example.
Other noise makers are music down-loaders who dish out music all through the day to attract customers. Another form of noise is wanton hooting of horns in town.
Taximen are known to speak only with the horn. They horn to find out someone’s destination, accept a client onboard and when obstructed by traffic, contributing to make the town very noisy.