Dossier de la Rédaction


Save Our Municipal Lakes!

The Prime Minister and Head of Government has recently appointed a senior official of the Yaounde municipality to head the special partnership contract scheme towards the rehabilitation of the Yaounde municipal lake.

In so doing, the Head of Government was heeding to a call made several times by the city’s dwellers and all other people interested in seeing the city benefit more from this veritable bounty offered by nature. The level at which the present decision has been taken leaves some reason for hope; because in the past several other initiatives had been taken to make the best out of the lake in terms of its tourism potential and even beyond.

But such initiatives had hardly ever been taken out of the drawing boards to see any effective action on the ground. Many Yaounde city dwellers probably blame the difficulty of developing this God-given gift to the city on the lack of vision or simple inability. But the same city dwellers of forty years and above can tell of the beauty and choice place the lake had in the period preceding its decadence in the early 80s. Who of that age bracket will accept that at that time the lake was a reference when it came to talking of leisure. There was a sprawling nautical sporting activity. The lake was well kept and maintained as one could see through the clean transparent waters.

A snack bar built at one end of the facility was also a must-go area for anyone in search of a cheery weekend. The lake was a swimmer’s delight indeed. Life was good around the lake and living in the neighbourhood was synonymous to living the good life. Living around the lake area was a sign of occupying a high rung on the social ladder.

Today, the lake is a shadow of itself and any Yaoundean returning to the city after a 30-year absence would hardly believe his eyes. Several attempts have been made, to no avail, in the past to give the lake its past glory. The lake remains in its harrowing state. Grass has grown all over the place. The snack bar, once an attraction for the city’s jet-set conjures a horrible picture of abandon. The water is murky and frightens anybody who comes close to it for fear of some dreaded substances which could be below.

In recent times, it was even a destination for people who ended their lives by throwing themselves into the lake to be found some times after an advanced state of putrefaction. Any available access to the lake water is now a car wash point while neighbourhood people come here to do their laundry. Very high hopes came when a Spanish consortium, obviously scandalized by the neglect of such a wonderful facility, last year undertook to rehabilitate it.

The non-take-off of work was seen as another lost opportunity confirming the belief that the Yaounde lake issue looked like a curse on the city! The Yaounde lake situation takes such a dramatic twist simply because of the potential it has in transforming the city which is also the national capital which cannot afford to neglect anything that contributes to its beauty. Could this situation have sent decision-makers in many other Cameroonian cities asleep?

There are countless lakes - natural and artificial - in many Cameroonian cities simply begging for attention so that they can become veritable destinations for the leisure of the inhabitants or for incoming tourists. Yaounde alone has some other three man-made lakes in the neighbourhoods of Efoulan, Nkolbisson and Obili which have all been abandoned. Ebolowa has its own at the Ekombitié area of the city; the university city of Dschang has its lake at the Foto area while there is the Lake Dang in Ngaoundere. Many other cities have lakes within easy reach of the city centre such as Kumba, Wum, Bafoussam etc.

Except probably for Dschang, there is no visible attempt to keep the artificial lakes in good stead. The natural ones have hardly ever been taken care of and, for the most part, remain in their natural state whereas they could have become tourist destinations fetching badly needed money for local councils without ignoring the part they play in providing jobs. The various municipalities in the country endowed with these rich natural features must see in the Prime Minister’s decision, an opportunity to fully exploit the opportunities provided virtually for free by these lakes.

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