A good number of food vendors in Cameroon’s capital city-Yaounde, do business with total disregard for social distancing and other safety measures.
Most of them are aware of the safety measures spelt out by the government to keep the deadly virus at bay, but do not adhere.
At the popular hub, Avenue Kennedy, vendors sell food in open air under very unhygienic conditions. Food flasks , with old broken lids are placed directly on bare ground. Some vendors cover food with plastic papers. Used plates are also placed directly on the ground, here dirty stagnant water flows through.
A few vendors have low tables, over crowded with buckets containing food, flasks , plates, cups, soap and sponges . The few whose tables are high, can barely manage the huge numbers of clients around them, waiting to be served.
None of these vendors, nor client has a mask on, and hand washing is simply far from the reality here.
Once served, the client picks up a spoon exposed on a tray with flies all around, and eats with all relish. Eight persons are seated on the same table, eating and discussing over their meals with no respect of social distancing measures.
Mr. Bikoe, a regular client here has just finished eating his meal. He admits that the COVID-19 scare has not caused vendors to respect to sanitation and social distancing measures. Business goes on as usual.
” Vendors and clients here do not respect safety measures. There is no place to wash hands, and no one wears masks . Life here is like every other time”.
At the Mimboman motor park, food vendors are equally not very concerned with safety measures. Most of them sell food in the open air without masks or utensils for hand washing. Four clients have to squeeze themselves on one small bench to eat.
Mme Marie, one of the food vendors, complains that government did not give them sanitary kits. However, she has bought a mask for herself and got utensils for clients to wash their hands.
” I have a mask that I wear before serving food to my clients. Although we were not given buckets, soap and other sanitary kits, I have bought my own sanitary kits. That’s what we are asked to do”.
Brandon and his brother sell roast chicken, exposed. They neither have water, a bucket, soap nor masks , but they say they respect safety measures. Clients still have to come very close to pick a slice of chicken, often without a mask. The boys say government did not give them sanitary kits, but their boss will get the kits for them.
“We weren’t given anything how will we respect the measures ?We expected the government to give us masks, washing soap and even food for the confinement. However, we do wash our hands and, respect social distancing measures. Brandon, food vendor
A visit to eateries tells a story of negligence, and complacency . The respect of safety measures in most public places is still a struggle. This explains why public health officials continue to warn that if safety measures are not respected, more infections will be recorded.
Cameroon crossed the threshold of 10,000 cases over a week ago. The figures have rapidly surged to over 12,000.
Kathy Neba Sina