The Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, Cameroons second largest employer after the Government with over 22 000 employees including temporary workers, is facing serious challenges of growth of number of employees and availability of adequate infrastructure to accommodate them.
The growth in number of employees has pushed the CDC to construct new camps to accommodate its personnel. “We are creating new and modern camps for our workers. For those who cannot live in our camps, we give them 25% of their monthly salary to rent wherever they wish, we also have 100% health coverage for all our workers without discrimination, in fact we are few in Cameroon to do that”, IKOME MANYAYE Paul, the Public Relations and Communication Officer of CDC told a working group of Journalists under the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Central Africa.
Despite these achievements made by the Parastatal Company to better the living and working conditions of its workers, much still needs to be done. After visiting the CDC new Camp in Njonge around Idenau in Fako Division and the Oil Mill in Idenau, a number of issues concerning human rights were raised ranging from Hygiene and Sanitation, Environmental pollution, Accommodation, Drainage system, Recreational facilities among others were raised. The Cameroon development Corporation has not been quick to readjust its housing policy. Workers still live in old houses constructed since 1947 when the corporation was created. And some of these houses have become too small to accommodate fast growing families. A family of five will find it difficult to live comfortably in one bed room and a parlor and in most cases small sizes.
Most of these houses have been dilapidated and begging for renovation. The CDC seems to be moving in the right direction by constructing new camps like that of Njonge, but despite the fact that the rooms are larger, some workers with more than two members of same family cannot afford to live in one room. The case of Irene VEKIMA whose husband has been working with CDC for ten years now, she told Cameroun Journal that they are five in number with just one bed room and a parlor; the children are forced to sleep in the living room due to lack of space. The United Nations Human Rights for Central Africa working group of Journalists also noted that the Njonge new Camp has not met with evolution in terms of modernity. The houses constructed are not modern, their toilets too. Whereas camps in areas such as Tiko, Middle farms, Limbe, Moliwe have modern toilets.
They concluded that modern camps will only be completed if toilets are modern. Most of these pit toilets are at time insufficient as compared to the number of inhabitants thus could lead to over crowdedness. For instance at the new Camp in Njonge where over 140 families are expected to be lodged, only 6 toilets and 6 bathe rooms are available for men and same figures for women. Some camps especially those in the interior do not have recreational centers where workers could assemble and release stress after hard labor. The creation of recreational and leisure centers such as playgrounds, parks, camps will boast the output of workers.Going by the 2012 studies of International Journal of Humanities and Social sciences , ‘’workplace recreation significantly contributes to employee productivity when viewed as part of rewards and benefits scheme.
This is achieved through motivation, body fitness and reduction in absenteeism. The results are consistent with those of a research by Department of Health Development, IIES (2006) which revealed negative correlations between productivity and subjective symptoms such stiff neck, low back pain and fatigue’’. The group however acknowledged the fact that Senior Service, S S clubs, exists with Tennis courts but a majority of those benefitting are found in urban areas. Most CDC camps are surrounded by waste materials which have either not been properly disposed or neglected.
This causes environmental pollution and is also fertile breeding grounds for Mosquitoes which transmits Malaria, one of killer diseases in Cameroon. Also poor drainage systems in CDC camps could stagnant water which can easily breeds mosquitoes. The presence of the water bodies can also be dangerous to surrounding residence especially children. And if adequate measures are not taken, can lead to floods in cases of downpour. The Cameroon Development Corporation has also put in place 100% health coverage but those living in suburbs will find it difficult to have access to quality health especially in cases of emergency. The UNHR working group of Journalists have recommended the acquisition of well equipped emergency ambulances that could transport serious cases to town and also the provision of modern equipments in its health centers found in camps.
According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as adopted on 6 December by the General Assemble on December 6, 1966 and entry into force on January 3, 1976 and considering the obligation for enterprises to respect their engagements in Corporate Social Responsibilities, the working group of Journalists noted with satisfactory the role played so far by CDC but noted that the above mentioned lapses must be corrected as prescribed by article 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on quality standard of living, mental health, industrial hygiene and improvement environmental aspects.