President Biya and Environmental Protection

'Can you please wrap it up for me? These were normal everyday words the vast majority of a generation in Cameroon grew up hearing. These words were usually muttered in shops, markets, anywhere you see people buying. To be sure, the Cameroonian consumer needed what was popularly referred to as 'wrappens'. The words changed however, and circumstances too. In today's Cameroon, we now have angry and frustrated shoppers trying to figure out how to carry their purchases 'wrappenless'.

 Cat calls had greeted the President Biya decree to control the production of plastic bags aka wrappens some few months ago.  A handful of Cameroonians were excited because constant litters of these plastic bags on the streets of our major towns and cities created many a sore eye to anyone interested in environmental protection and thus when this decree was made public, these group of people were begeistert because they envisaged a recycling process in the making which will both help protect the environment from biohazards and litter.

For a time, it was back to the practices our parents and grandparents were used to…parceling goods on what was considered environmental safe products like papers, plantain and ngongo leafs; while Cameroonians are still waiting for those selected by President Paul Biya's decree to start producing the recommended biodegradable plastic bags or shopping paper bags.

Not many readily embraced this change because they saw it as a means to exploit and cause hardships to the masses. Many people working in such factories not yet authorized to produce biodegradable bags have been laid off. Many held the view that though it remains a laudable venture towards the quest for environmental protection, the government would have at least provided alternatives before the biodegradable options become available.

Undoubtedly, unscrupulous individuals and disrespectful workers in super markets and other businesses without an ounce of customer service know- how are treating their customers as servants rather than kings. It has become a norm rather than the exception in most of these business places that anything bought and parceled comes with an additional 50 or 100 frs charge for the plastic bags. They are now considered luxuries of sorts. You either pay for it in addition to all the thousands spent or you carry on your hands and head. Some few shops especially those with a reputable clientele continue to provide such plastic bags or boxes without charge but a vast majority don't. This Biya decree on plastic bags has left many Cameroonian buyers disgruntled. As the quest for an environmental safe plastic bag continues, many people continue to fume as they wait to see what final solution will be achieved.

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