Monday, December 21, 2015

One Tedious & Interesting Morning

“My Business has known a fiasco these days following my persistent search for a new sim card. I have been to different agencies of the Mobile telephony in Buea, Tiko and Limbe but cannot retrieve my sim because the tellers don’t have enough Sims for the customers. The tellers say they run short of sim cards and I think this is ridiculous with all the publicity made about the advent of 4G. Cameroon needs a 5th network because Orange, MTN, CAMTEL and NEXTEL already have duties to provide the customers, pressing needs cannot be handled. I even had to pay 3000 CFA Francs (instead of 1000) to get a virgin sim. Three times the normal price, and I had to pay because I want operations of my business to see light with end of year festivities at the doorstep” The testimonies of Sylvain TAYO, a 30 year old business man from Buea who has for 3 days struggled in vain to retrieve his number, and so he had to travel from Buea to retrieve his sim card in the Nation’s economic metropolis. This is only one complain amongst many others who have been sitting at the agency since morning and cannot be served for lack of timely services.
 “I have been at Akwa since 8:00am and I have not been attended to. I am furious because this is affecting my day’s schedule and I wonder how I will catch up with the busy nature of the era” 23 year old Mirable Ashu said. A trial to confirm what allegations made by customers since I lost my phone to men of the underworld met me with an experience. Upon arrival, I am advised by security to meet the Agency Manager since hundreds of people are queuing long lines for the same service and I have much work to do on my office table. I wanted to feel what it takes to undertake the normal procedures and so I told the receptionist why I came to the telecommunications building. She gave me ticket number 711, with indications that I have 14 people before me.
Observing the activities of the Sanaga, Benoue and Wouri tellers of the agency, I eavesdrop a conversation between embittered customers complaining about the poor quality of service. Patience is a virtue I cultivate and this day I obtained my Bsc degree in patience and tolerance. It’s 9:54 am and I am going to wait…..
Meantime, the inhabitants of the Akwa neighbourhood were electrified by the triumphant comeback of popular Essama, recently released from the Newbell central prison. The commercial bike riders in a very noisy tour welcomed the son of soil whom they believe stands for rights, thus, his must not be abused. AT 10:35am, the sim card retrievers are still gnashing their teeth over the poor customer services rendered by the Benoue, Sanaga and Wouri tellers. Some run fast asleep, others bang the door for other duties and patient customers who trust in the better connection, wait a little longer. I receive a call at 11:08 and I am forced to quit the Telephony building for the Regional Delegation of Communications. I spent over two hours without any result and on my way out, I stumble on Antoine who happens to be a sim card middle man. He offers his services in 15minutes against a token of 2000 CFA Francs. How does he get sim cards customers cannot be served by tellers? Are some workers of the telephony deliberately keeping sims for black market sales? If yes, why would they play double deals with their customers? And if no, how come this guy solves my problem in 15 minutes? Antoine reassures me in 15minutes, I will have a sim card after giving him a copy of my ID card on which I write the number of my missing sim.

Before the SIM card experience, I ran some errands in Bonanjo, the administrative headquarters of Douala. Early Morning, I run into a crowd at the Bonanjo Immigration centre willing to do passports. As World leaders pushed emissions’ deal in Paris to protect nature’s future from the worst, the hundreds of young citizens I found are planning to hush out of the Country. In the mad rush to step out of Little Africa, they must compile valid documents (copies of birth certificate, academic certificates, ID Card, Work Contract, Marriage Certificate (if married)) that will make them eligible to own a passport. After doing this, the PP candidates queue long lines at the Immigration centre in wait of instructions from the officers handling their documents.
Interesting enough, small businesses are installed by struggling citizens who hawk some food items for some who cannot go all day without breakfast. While the hungry ones attend to their breakfast, a woman wearing sky long sleeve shirt and well ironed navy blue trousers with a strict and stern look steps out and verifies whether passport seekers present have deposited the legal documents required of them. ‘Ou est le garcon qui doit partir à l’école? Il faut que je le libère avant qu’il ne soit trop tard’ she said. The parents of the little boy stepped out with him and she attended to them in 10minutes. I am amazed! I just saw an upright, timely and straightforward officer.
It’s time to take the pictures and every lady (young or old) is making up to look good in the photograph. Another neatly dressed and polite police officer with an afro hair do, flat pair of well-polished black shoes and 6 stars on the epaulette asked tens of the passport seekers to follow her. I am tired but I am carried by the professionalism of these ladies and I write about it to illustrate the rule of exceptions in every experience. I rapidly run for another appointment since it’s a busy day but I am impressed I must confess by the police women’s duty consciousness I will dedicate a whole to them one of these days.

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