Why the Capital of the independent Southern Cameroons shall be relocated to a more central and safe location.
Buea became the capital of German Kamerun in 1901 after Governor Jesko von Puttkamer completed the construction of the building which he subsequently named “Puttkamer Schloss” or Puttkamer Palace. From 1901, the Germans governed the vaste colony from the Puttkamer Palace.
The reason why Governor Jesco von Puttkamer moved the capital from Douala was because he strongly disliked (in fact he hated) the Douala people. The reason was because the Douala were notorious for writing embarrassing petitions to Berlin against the Governor. But in moving the capital from Douala the Governor chose Buea which had a more hospitable climate.
The land on which the Puttkamer Palace was constructed carried some controversy. It was part of the land that Governor Julius Freiherr von Soden “bought” from the people of Upper and Lower Buea in 1887 which enabled his name to be entered into the colonial land registry as the owner of the “whole” of Buea.
When WWI broke out, Governor Karl Ebermeier move the colonial staff to Douala from where they planned their retreat towards Yaounde until they finally exited the colony in January 1916.
Following the partition of the colony in 1919 between Britain and France, the British maintained Buea as the capital of British Cameroons and the residence of the British Commissioner.
When the United Kingdom split British Cameroons into Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons, the capital of Northern Cameroons which was Governed from Kaduna was Ibi while that of the Southern Cameroons which was governed from Enugu was Buea.
In 1954 when the British Colonial Secretary proposed the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly, the seat of the assembly was based in Buea. This is how Buea took shape as the capital of the Southern Cameroons. Buea continued to be the capital of West Cameroon until the advent of the unitary state in 1972, following which it was only the capital of the Southwest Province.
The question facing the people of the
Southern Cameroons is the following:
In the event of Southern Cameroons independence what considerations should go into deciding where the future capital should be located? This is an open question which should be discussed openly and without fear.
Buea is no longer the best location for the future capital for the following reasons:
Buea is not a safe location anymore. The vulnerability of Buea from foreign invasion has not changed from what it was in 1895 when a heavily armed German force under Rittmeister Maximilian von Stetten marched up to Buea and forced Chief Kuva Likenye who had his back against Mount Fako to pull out his Bakweri fighting force and to abandon their land to the Germans.
When the government of LRC decided to arrest the Consortium leaders in 2017, they simply walked into Buea and picked them up like sitting ducks.
Buea does not have a water source to support a population of 300-400,000 which is the projected population of the capital city by 2030
Property values have already risen too high in Buea as a result of a lot of land speculation.
There are very good reasons why the capital should be moved to the interior of the territory and the most suitable location is Bachuo Akagbe for the following reasons:
Bachuo Akagbe is exactly the geographic midpoint between Abonshie in Ako district of Donga & Mantung and Bimbia in Fako division. It is also the geographic midpoint between Fontem and Ekok.
Bachuo Akagbe also has the advantage of being located next to the Cross River where the abundant water from the river will easily satisfy the water supply needs of a capital city of 500,000 or more.
Bachuo Akagbe also has the advantage of being located just across the river from Besongabang where there is an existing airstrip which shall be easily upgraded into.an international airport to serve the national capital.
But choosing Bachuo Akagbe is merely a symbolic junction because the land that would be needed for a capital territory would stretch all the way to Okoyong to include the land on the right bank of the Cross River and extending as far as the government shall deem necessary for the needs of the state. But the capital territory shall not include Mamfe Town it
This discussion needs to take place now not after independence.!!!
We need to understand that for the last 55 years the Yaounde regime has not attached any priority to the construction of the Ring Road or the Kumba-Mamfe road. What this means is that after SC independence it could take at least 10-15 years for the two vital road networks to be constructed.
If the capital is maintained in Buea, citizens from Menchum, Boyo, DongaMantung, Bui and NgoKitungia will have to endure the bad conditions of the Ring Road and the bad condition of the Kumba road for another 10-15 years in the new country.
Many can turn away from Southern Cameroons independence by continuing to use the roads in LRC. Conflict on this issue can easily trigger a South Sudan scenario.
That is why the issue of the national capital must be dealt with now and not after independence.
Dr. Nfor N Susungi
Group Head Economy