Cameroon: Spontaneous Markets Remain Resistant

Petit marché à Yaoundé

In spite of efforts by the Yaounde City Council to restore sanity, urban disorder persists. Yaounde, Thursday March 20, 2014. It’s 10 a.m. and the weather is bright. Pauline Mangne, 27, a Yaoundé inhabitant who works as a housemaid was seen buying some food items in a small market or “petit marché” as it is called in French in the Ngousso neighbourhood in Yaounde.[pagebreak] She said she went to buy from the small market because it is near her home and it helps her catch up with time.
For close to a decade, there has been an offspring of markets in the capital city Yaounde. What catches the eye of any visitor who comes to the city is the presence of markets in strategic junctions. The markets crop up on a daily basis in nearly all neighbourhoods. It just suffices for one person to start selling an item on a particular spot. That will automatically be a call for others to start selling there and the place evolves to become a market.
A market normally is constructed and well planned in any city. But that is not the case in Yaounde. These unplanned markets are found mostly in main junctions, entrance into some schools and institutions of higher learning, financial institutions and beside motor parks. The items that are commonly sold in these markets are vegetables, fruits, palm nuts and maize among other perishable foods. In most cases these markets appear only in the evenings while others continue even during the day. Madeleine Onguene who sells fruits at the Nsam junction said she only sells as from 4:00 p.m. when the agents of the City Council have closed from work. Majority of the markets are mostly seasonal while others are periodical. At the entrance to the Treasury in Ngoa Ekele, there is a market where people sell goods especially during salary payout. One of the traders, Mary Tambang said she sells there once every month because sales are high when salaries are out.

Apart from that, some of the traders in these markets come from villages around Yaounde and beyond. Martine Messina, a trader, said she lives in Ayos and comes to Yaounde everyday with food stuff to sell in the evening and after selling she travels back to Ayos. “Anything I harvest in the farm I come and sell in Yaounde,” she said. She explained that it is the only source of livelihood for her family.

In spite of efforts by the Yaounde City Council to construct markets and shops, many people prefer selling their goods in these markets for varied reasons. Some complain that the new stalls in the big markets are expensive and they will not be able to pay the rents. A source at the Yaoundé City Council said the City Council is building markets and shops so as to fight against urban disorder and to beautify the city.

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