A WORD OF WELCOME PRESENTED BY THE GOVERNMENT DELEGATE TO THE Bamenda City Council AT THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, PROTECTION OF NATURE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO BAMENDA FROM THE 1ST TO THE 3RD OF APRIL 2014, AS PART OF A NATION-WIDE CAMPAIGN ON THE BAN OF THE USE OF PLASTIC PACKAGING IN CAMEROONin Speeches
The Minister of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development,
The Governor of the North West Region,
The Senior Divisional Officer for Mezam,
The Divisional Officers of Bamenda I, II and III,
The Mayors of Bamenda I, II and III,
The North West Regional Delegate of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development,
All Civil, Judiciary and Military Authorities of the North West Region,
Traditional, Religious and Political Authorities,
Every other Protocol duly respected,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Bamenda City Council, and in the name of the populations of Bamenda and the entire North West Region, to welcome all of you today, to this much-awaited official campaign against the use of plastic packaging in Bamenda in particular, and in Cameroon in general.
We would like to offer a very special word of welcome to the Minister and his entourage, and to say, Thank You, to all those who have made this event happen, especially all the Bamenda-based NGOs and associations, working in the domain of environmental protection.
One of the major activities of the Bamenda City Council is waste collection and disposal. It is saying very little, by saying that our biggest headache in this venture, is the struggle to cope with plastics all over the City, and even in the inner-City. Because of the light weight of these plastics, they are the easiest materials to be disposed of; and that is how all our markets, streets, homes and even offices are littered by plastics of all kinds.
One of our greatest challenges, even with four local companies here in Bamenda sweeping the streets and grubbing gutters, is having to clear gutters and streams, which have been blocked by tons of plastics, reason why we have constant floods all over the City during the rainy season.
Yet, not so long ago, we did not have this rampant and haphazard use of plastics in our markets and kitchens. The fact that our famous Achuh here in Mezam Division and beyond, has not been tampered with, by having it served in plastics, means that it is still possible to do without plastic packaging. Our Region is so full of alternatives that our people only need the necessary education on the health hazards of plastic packaging, to go back to their old habits. In most of our homes, even in the heart of our City, we can still find raffia bags, jute bags, banana and plantain leaves, as well as tons of paper that could be recycled for packaging.
Mr. Minister, sir,
There are other kinds of plastics that equally deserve a lot attention. We cannot eliminate plastics without thinking of wreaths, artificial flowers and plastic toys. By extending this ban to such items, we shall be encouraging our local communities to grow flowers, and to use local, natural materials to replace some of these commodities.
Another very serious environmental issue here in Bamenda is water depletion over the years, due to the extensive and excessive cutting down of environmental-friendly trees for farm lands, as well as the introduction of the water draining Eucalyptus species.
For instance, about 30 years ago, we used to have, at least, 30 cubic metres of water per second from water catchments for local consumption. Today, we cannot boast of even one cubic metre of water per second, for a population of above 500,000. In order to solve this water crisis, Your Excellency, very heavy investments are required to provide alternative sources of income to a population that does not only thrive on the cultivation of Eucalyptus trees, but that equally farms on water sheds.
To further compound this precarious situation, even the little water that runs underground has been systematically polluted by haphazard burials and the digging of latrines near most habitations. As such, there is a dire need for the introduction of communal cemeteries, through a national policy; and for a City like Bamenda, a central sewage treatment unit is a necessity.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
For this campaign against the use of plastics to succeed, and for the restoration of our environment and water sources to become reality, each and every one of us must take up this challenge both as a personal and a collective assignment. This will start when we refuse to be served in our shops and markets in plastics; when we shall make sure that food at home is not served in same; when concrete steps shall be taken to revitalise our water catchments; and when a national policy shall be put in place to check the pollution of our underground water by unhealthy practices.
True, some of our local Councils already have anti-plastics programmes running in their municipalities; we can only encourage them to step up the fight, and we call on the other Councils to follow suit. We are all aware that plastics are non-biodegradable; and as such, they pollute the soil, making it unfit for cultivation. It is, therefore, the role of our Municipalities to sound this warning to all our local communities; and it is on this call for immediate action, that once more, I extend the warmth of the City of Bamenda to all of you. Enjoy your stay here in Bamenda, and do find time to come back to enjoy our plastic-free streets and markets.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Vincent Nji Ndumu.