Cameroon: Mixed Feelings as President Biya hikes Fuel Prices

By Sonita Ngunyi Nwohtazie

Fuel subsidies cost the Cameroonian state over $1.2 billion a year and Yaounde had come under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stop them.

Will things get any better? a question asked by many Cameroonians following the communique signed by the head of state president Paul Biya on January 31 2023, increasing the prices of petroleum products in the national market.

Following the instructions of the head of state, the government has implemented the measures taken after serious constructive deliberations in preserving physical balances. According to the communique, a litter of super that was sold at FCFA 630 will now be sold at FCFA 730, Gasoil moves from FCFA 579 to FCFA 720 a litre while SCDP petrol has witnessed an increase of FCFA 350 a litter to FCFA 560,19. The price of domestic gas remains unchanged.

Despite these measures taken to create physical balance in the Cameroonian market, the communique stirred up mixed feelings among the population which out of frustration have poured out grievances.

“We cried out to the government to solve the issue of high prices of basic commodities in our market and instead of solving it the government has decided to make things difficult for us all by adding the prices of petroleum products,” Nforbi Ephraim, a taxi driver in Buea cries out.

“With this increase how are we going to feed our families because it is gradually turning into a nightmare as we will be fighting with passengers in terms of transportation fair because to facilitate our work or make a profit now we might only increase taxi fares to be able to even feed our families and send our children to school.”

The communique also holds that an increase of 5.2% has been added to all civil servant’s salaries increasing the normal salary rate to FCFA 41.875 with civil servants breathing a sigh of relief, at the detriment of the increase in basic commodities. Disgruntled with the fuel increase, some civilians say their little salaries will all be transferred to the transportation fair.

“Getting that information on the price increase of petroleum products, a distance I used to pay for FCFA 100 is now FCFA 200 to FCFA 250, that is only if you have it in cash. Now, transportation has increased to the point where after a monthly calculation one can say that all her sweat will be diverting to taking care of transportation costs,” Vitalis Awa, a Buea inhabitant decries the situation.

In an interview with a Pan African Vision reporter on whether transportation fairs will generally be increased for both the passengers and drivers, Kum Paul, president of the Cameroon National Trade Union of Transport Drivers Union, CAMNATUIW in Buea said: “As for now we have instructed all our drivers not to increase transportation fair unless we receive others from our bosses then are we going to multiply the fare but as for now everything is still fixed.”

However, it is worth mentioning that this is coming at a time when the increase in the prices of petroleum products is due to a certain shift in the international market, leaving the common population to struggle for survival, therefore, hoping that even the increase of basic commodities does not extensively hamper with their day-to-day living.



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